Taking Care of Our Guys – Men’s Health

Most of us have several guys in our lives that we care about – significant others, husbands, sons, dads, brothers, and more.   June is Men’s Health month as well as the month for Father’s Day,

Most of us have several guys in our lives that we care about – significant others, husbands, sons, dads, brothers, and more.   June is Men’s Health month as well as the month for Father’s Day, so it is always a great opportunity to think about men’s health.   Are you aware of how YOU can be an important change-agent in your guys’ health, no matter who they are?

 

Research supports that women are more likely to visit a healthcare provider than men. 1  Studies have shown that women seek more health care in response to both physical and mental health concerns 2-6 and that  even when factoring in the increased health care needs unique to women (e.g., pregnancy and related care), women visit family physicians more often and report longer consultation times than men. 7 As women, we understand the importance of good health and can use that understanding to help our guys be healthier, whether it is through the practice of healthy habits, or getting to a healthcare provider for proper screenings.

 

Before we get into the “how we can help” discussion, what are the reasons why men don’t go to the doctor as often in the first place? We found a great blog post that shares some of the research about just that.8   From “not having enough time” to beliefs about being strong and reliant, to fear of diagnosis, to being uncomfortable with exams, there are a host of studies by prominent researchers that delve into the ‘why’s’ of why men do not go to the doctor.  And it appears that there are indeed multiple reasons.  But you know what the silver lining is?  We are in a great position to encourage our guys to take care of themselves and get to the doctor. 8  It turns out almost 20% of men admit to going to the doctor just so a loved one will stop asking them about it. Encouraging your loved ones about going to the doctor for annual check-ups – and yes, that may be called “nagging” to some, might save a life through early diagnosis or at least be reassured about a check-up with nothing noteworthy.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers great strategies for helping the men in our lives get and stay healthy.9

 

Supporting Healthy Habits:

 

You can support the men in your life by having healthy habits yourself and by making healthy choices.

  • Eat healthy and include a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables have many vitamins and minerals that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.

 

  • Regular physical activity has many benefits. It can help control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers, and can improve your mental health and mood. Find fun ways to be active together. Adults need 2½ hours of physical activity each week.

 

  • Set an example by choosing not to smoke and encourage the men in your life to quit smoking. Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits. You lower your risk for different types of cancer, and don’t expose others to secondhand smoke—which causes health problems. Call your state’s tobacco quitline (for English speakers, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW [1-800-784-8669]; for Spanish speakers, call 1-855-DÉJELO-YA [1-855-335-3569]).

 

  • Help the men in your life recognize and reduce stress. Physical or emotional tension are often signs of stress. They can be reactions to a situation that causes you to feel threatened or anxious. Learn ways to manage stress including finding support, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and avoiding drugs and alcohol.

 

 

Encouraging Men to See a Healthcare Professional and Get Regular Check-Ups

 

Encourage men to see a doctor or health professional for regular checkups and to learn about their family health history.

 

  • Men can prepare for doctor’s visits. Certain diseases and conditions may not have symptoms, so checkups help identify issues early or before they can become a problem.

 

  • It’s important for men (and women) to understand their family health history, which is a written or graphic record of the diseases and health conditions present in your family. It is helpful to talk with family members about health history, write this information down, and update it from time to time.

 

Feature image from Pexels courtesy of brenoanp

 

References:

1 Thompson, A.E., Anisimowicz, Y., Miedema, B. et al. The influence of gender and other patient characteristics on health care-seeking behaviour: a QUALICOPC study. BMC Fam Pract 17, 38 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12875-016-0440-0

2 Mackenzie CS, Gekoski WL, Knox VJ. Age, gender, and the underutilization of mental health services: the influence of help-seeking attitudes. Aging Ment Health. 2006;10(6):574–82.

3 Matheson FI et al. Physical health and gender as risk factors for usage of services for mental illness. J

4 Verhaak PF et al. Chronic disease and mental disorder. Soc Sci Med. 2005;60(4):789–97.

5 Carriere G. Consultations with doctors and nurses. Health Rep. 2005;16(4):45–8.

6 Nabalamba A, Millar WJ. Going to the doctor. Health Rep. 2007;18(1):23–35.

7 Nabalamba A, Millar WJ. Going to the doctor. Health Rep. 2007;18(1):23–35.

8 TriCity Medical Center.  Why Don’t Men Go to the Doctor as Often as Women? https://www.tricitymed.org/2017/06/dont-men-go-doctor-often-women/

9 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  National Men’s Health Week. https://www.cdc.gov/features/healthymen/index.html

 

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Cindy Chafin
Cindy Chafin, M.Ed., MCHES® serves as editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her. Through her many years as a masters-level certified health educator and 18-year employment in a higher education setting – as well as several years as a graduate and doctoral student – she has written countless articles, essays, publications, grant applications, proposals, reports, and other technical and creative writing documents. In addition to her training and professional work experience, she spent four years as volunteer editor of New Focus Daily, a publication of the Women Survivors Alliance, a national women cancer survivors-focused organization based in Nashville, Tennessee.
While serving as editor of Unconditionally Her, a women-focused magazine which provides content on anything from recipes, travel, books, and everything in between, she has a special interest in fitness, health, and well-being. She is certified by the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) and was part of the first cohort to receive master's level designation. NCHEC certifies health education specialists, promotes professional development, and strengthens professional preparation and practice. She is proud to be a CHES® and has been a public health professional for many years after receiving her graduate degree in health promotion and education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for many years and looks forward to re-engaging with women one-on-one as a health coach pending completion of her certification and doctoral degree to supplement her public health and academic work.

She currently is the Associate Director for Community Programs for the Center for Health and Human Services at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, located just outside of Nashville, where she has been a project director of multiple grants since 2002 and served as interim director from 2015-2018. Cindy offers her consulting services and volunteer hours under the umbrella of Community Health Collaboratives, LLC which she founded in 2002 for organizations such as Unconditionally Her and other non-profit and charity organizations. She is pleased to promote empowerment and confidence of women readers across the globe, and to provide inspiration, motivation, and voice for social change through her role as editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her.