June marks Men’s Health Month and the goal is to encourage men and boys to take charge of their health by making healthy living decisions. Although the month is nearing the end, the importance remains for regular checkups and awareness of the health risks associated with age, ethnicity, and lifestyle, said Dr. Larry Proctor, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Sport and Leisure Studies at Grambling State University.
A physical exam/well check and the physical activity readiness questionnaire (PAR-Q) are good places to start. The PAR-Q can help men decide if they are able to exercise safely or if they might need to consult with a doctor to make sure they don’t overdo it.
To take charge of their health, men also need to make time for a prostate cancer screening, cholesterol and blood pressure screening, diabetes test, colonoscopy and bone density test.
“When asked why they don’t get routine medical care such as an annual physical, men often report vague issues like a busy schedule. But we suspect there’s more to it than that,” Dr. Proctor said. “When researchers dug a little deeper, they discovered a few common themes popping up around this troubling trend.”
According to Harvard and Rutgers, men who self-report traditional views on masculinity are also less likely to get consistent health care. There appears to be a correlation between holding the belief that men should be strong and self-reliant (and slow to show emotion) which happens to include resisting routine exams as a sign of strength.
“Fear of diagnosis, white coat syndrome or discomfort with exams are a few other reasons for not getting medical checkups,” Dr. Proctor said.
According to Proctor, men are twice as likely to wait more than two years between doctor visits. In fact, for all the reasons listed above and more, more than 40% of men don’t go to the doctor at all unless they have a serious issue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14.9% of men aged 18 and over are in fair or poor health. During Men’s Health Month and beyond, men are encouraged to take steps to enrich their health and wellness through proper screenings and care.
That means going to the doctor if they are feeling sick, Dr. Proctor said.
“Physiological or metabolic, musculoskeletal and/or cardiovascular irregularities associated with pain are signs that we have to respond to,” he said. “If caught early enough through diagnosis, there is a 45% chance of preventing debilitation or adding years to your life.”
He added that they are five ways men can take care of themselves:
Get regular health checkups. Annual checkups could save your life.
Get good sleep. Not getting enough sleep can be associated with a number of conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and stress.
Toss the tobacco.
“Reach out to culturally-appropriate educational programs designed to increase health literacy and physical fitness activities,” Dr. Proctor said.