November isn’t just about falling leaves and Thanksgiving. It’s also Movember, a month dedicated to raising awareness about men’s health issues. From physical health risks to mental well-being, let’s shed light on the crucial aspects of men’s health this Movember and what you can do now to now to boost your immune system, enhance your well-being, and reduce your health risks for yourself and the other men in your life.
The Importance of Movember: Men Often Ignore Their Own Health
Numerous studies have found that many men fail to prioritize their own health and wellness. For example, it’s been widely reported that men face a higher rate of mental health challenges, struggle to maintain a healthy social support network, and often engage in a “pattern of forgoing traditional…health services compared to women.”
This trend of men ignoring their own health can often be attributed to various factors, including societal expectations, cultural norms, and individual attitudes. “Many men ignore health issues out of anxiety, fear or embarrassment, but it is important to keep in mind that doctors want to help you find solutions that best fit your needs,” explains Washington University School of Medicine. “Often times, health problems don’t go away on their own, and catching them early can be beneficial in the long run. While bringing up sensitive topics may seem awkward at first, these conversations can lead to the resolution of symptoms and conditions, effective preventative measures before the onset of symptoms, and even an improved quality of life overall.”
Other reasons for ignoring self-care and taking control of their own wellness and health include:
- Traditional Gender Norms: Societal expectations around masculinity often promote the idea that men should be strong, stoic, and self-reliant. Seeking help or acknowledging vulnerability may be perceived as a sign of weakness, leading some men to avoid addressing their health concerns.
- Fear of Weakness or Vulnerability: Some men may fear that acknowledging health issues or seeking medical help will be perceived as a sign of weakness. This fear can prevent them from openly discussing or addressing their health concerns.
- Minimization of Symptoms: Men may downplay or minimize symptoms, attributing them to stress or other factors. This tendency to dismiss warning signs can delay seeking medical attention until a health issue becomes more serious.
And in many cases, some men may not be fully aware of the importance of preventive healthcare or the risks associated with certain conditions. A lack of awareness about available resources and the benefits of early detection may contribute to neglecting health, and that’s where Movember comes in: Spotlighting what men need to do to live a long, healthy and happy life!
3 Things to Know This Movember
Addressing these challenges involves promoting a more inclusive and understanding approach to masculinity, fostering open communication about health, and increasing awareness about the importance of preventive care. Whether you’re a man who wants to take back your inner power and be in control of your health and wellness, or you’re worried about the health of a man in your life, these three Movember tips and things to know will get you started.
1. The Importance of Regular Check-ups
One of the most powerful tools in maintaining good health is prevention. Men, however, are often less likely to schedule regular check-ups than women. Take charge of your health by scheduling regular visits to healthcare professionals.
Routine health screenings are crucial for men because they play a key role in preventive healthcare. These screenings can help detect potential health issues in their early stages, allowing for timely intervention and management. For example, your doctor may be able to identify risk factors and help you make lifestyle changes or receive interventions that prevent the development of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Health screenings also assess various risk factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels. Identifying and managing these risk factors early on can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and other conditions.
Finally, routine health screenings often involve discussions about lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and substance use. This provides an opportunity for your healthcare providers to offer guidance on adopting and maintaining healthy habits.
By identifying and addressing health issues early on, routine screenings contribute to better overall health and well-being, leading to an improved quality of life. There are several specific screenings recommended for men ages 40 and older:
- Blood Pressure Measurement: Regular blood pressure checks are crucial for monitoring cardiovascular health. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
- Cholesterol Level Test: Lipid panel screenings assess cholesterol levels, including LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol. Elevated cholesterol levels can contribute to cardiovascular disease.
- Blood Sugar (Glucose) Test: Regular blood sugar screenings are important for detecting diabetes or prediabetes. Early intervention can help manage blood sugar levels and prevent complications.
- Colorectal Cancer Screening: Screening for colorectal cancer is recommended, typically starting at age 45 or earlier based on individual risk factors. Options include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and fecal occult blood tests.
- Prostate Cancer Screening: Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests and digital rectal exams (DREs) are commonly used for prostate cancer screening. The decision to undergo screening should be individualized based on factors like age, family history, and personal preferences.
- Vision and Hearing Tests: Regular vision and hearing screenings are important for maintaining sensory health and addressing age-related changes in vision and hearing.
- Bone Density Test: Bone density screenings, such as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans, help assess bone health and the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
2. Health Risks for Older Men
As men age, certain health risks become more prevalent. Common health risks for older men include:
- Cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and high cholesterol, which elevate the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- Prostate issues, including an increased likelihood of prostate cancer, can be a concern.
- Osteoporosis, which poses a risk to bone health, thereby increasing your susceptibility to fractures.
- Type 2 diabetes, often associated with aging, which requires careful management to prevent complications.
- Vision and hearing impairment are common age-related concerns that can affect overall well-being.
Additionally, mental health challenges, including depression and anxiety, may arise, emphasizing the importance of addressing both physical and mental health in the aging population. Regular health screenings, a healthy lifestyle, and open communication with healthcare providers are crucial for managing and preventing these health risks in older men.
3. Changing Lifestyle and Dietary Needs
As men age and change, so too do our lifestyle and dietary needs. Making adjustments to lifestyle and diet can contribute to your overall well-being and help manage potential health risks associated with aging.
“Muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60,” warn researchers. Engage in regular physical activity to maintain muscle mass, bone density, and overall mobility. Incorporate a mix of aerobic exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises.
If you haven’t already, adopt a balanced and nutrient-rich diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Pay attention to portion sizes to maintain a healthy weight. Consider reducing sodium intake and switching to good quality sea salt to support cardiovascular health and manage blood pressure.
Older men are more prone to dehydration, which can impact every area of your wellness, including your immune system. Stay well-hydrated by drinking sufficient water throughout the day. Dehydration can impact various bodily functions, including kidney health and cognitive function.
Consume foods rich in calcium and vitamin D to support bone health. Dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods are good sources. Consider supplements if recommended by a healthcare provider but be sure they are balanced with magnesium and are made from a natural absorbable source.
Practice stress-management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or hobbies to reduce the negative impact of chronic stress on both physical and mental health.
Maintain social connections and engage in activities that bring joy and fulfillment. Social interaction has been linked to improved mental health and well-being.
Take Control of Your Health This Movember
Movember isn’t just about growing mustaches; it’s a movement aimed at changing the face of men’s health. This Movember, let’s challenge the stereotypes surrounding men’s health and encourage open conversations. By understanding the health risks and what we need to do to be proactive, we can contribute to a healthier future for ourselves and the other men in our lives.