“Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.” Congressman Bill Richardson made that statement in May 1994, the same year Congress designated June National Men's Health Month.
With Father's Day approaching, now is a great time to talk about healthy lifestyle habits for all men who strive to be active, health-conscious examples not only for their sons, but for the entire family.
Taking the time now to do the little things to ensure your health—including scheduling an annual check-up with your physician—may prevent big health problems down the road. Also, if you have a family history or elevated risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, it is important to discuss ongoing evaluation of these conditions with your physician.
Men between the ages of 50 and 75 at an average risk for colorectal cancer should be screened regularly for the disease. Men 50 and over should also consult their physicians to determine the need for prostate cancer screening. Men between the ages of 55 and 74 who have a history of smoking or who are current heavy smokers should talk to their physicians about screening for early lung cancer detection.
Also, with summer in full swing and plenty of outdoor family activities on the schedule, it's a good time to have your skin examined by a dermatologist for signs of melanoma. Visit the American Cancer Society's page for more information about the types of cancer men should be screened for according to age and risk factors.
The maintenance of good health also means exercising on a regular basis, eating right and making healthy lifestyle choices. If you’ve already regular exercise routine, keep it up, and remember to balance cardio with strength training.
If you are just beginning to exercise, a good rule of thumb is to get in at least 30 minutes of activity five times a week. Let your age, current health condition and fitness level be your guide. Regardless of your current activity level, you can always consult a fitness professional for advice on an exercise regimen that is right for you.
You may also want to consider yoga to enhance flexibility and balance. While you’re at it, exercise your mind with a calming mediation practice. Both yoga and meditation are good ways to manage stress, which can both lower the immune system and raise cholesterol.
When it comes to healthy eating, the three keys to a balanced diet include eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, adding fiber-rich foods like whole grains and reducing the consumption of saturated and trans fats.
The combination of regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet can also help men maintain healthy weight, which aids in lowering risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Lastly, healthy lifestyle choices will improve your heart health and overall wellbeing. If you’re a smoker, it's time to quit. Smoking has been directly linked to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and emphysema. While a cocktail or beer now and then generally won't adversely impact your health, heavy drinking will, so remember to drink in moderation.
By taking these simple steps, you'll not only improve your overall health and quality of life, but you'll also stick around for many more Father's Days to come.