Since June 12 through 18 is National Men’s Health Week, the following action plan is offered to help keep guys fit and healthy. To make this easy to digest, lots of guyspeak, sports metaphors and simple language will be used. Ladies, if you have an all-star guy on your team, tape a copy of this to his locker.
- Avoid accidents.
According to research published by the Centers for Disease Control, accidents are the leading cause of death in men until the age of 44. Avoid doing obvious things that have danger stamped all over them such as: Standing on ladders where it says, “This is not a step. Do not stand here.” Not wearing seatbelts. Driving recklessly or intoxicated. Cleaning the blade of your lawn mower while it’s on. You get the drift? Don’t allow yourself to be carried off the field and placed on permanent waivers.
- Get an annual physical.
An ounce of prevention averts a pound of trouble. Know your BP, PSA, cholesterol and glucose numbers. Every pro knows his batting average and other vital stats. Know yours. Most health issues can be addressed less invasively if treated early. In addition a long stint on the Injured Reserved can be costly, financially and emotionally. If it’s been more than two years since you’ve had a complete physical, schedule one soon.
- Do your cardio.
About 800,000 people a year die from cardiovascular disease in the USA. Doing one’s cardio strengthens the heart and sends oxygenated blood coursing through the circulatory system. The benefits of having a strong heart and unclogged circulatory system are like good pitching…you can never have enough.
- Exercise your legs.
Legs are like Rodney Dangerfield. They get no respect at all, but they are the power behind all you do. Without strong and healthy legs, climbing stairs, walking a golf course and getting in and out of your car are nearly impossible. Most importantly, legs keep you ambulatory. No one ever had to enter an assisted living facility because they could not do a bench press. So if you want to stay in the game, exercise your legs.
- Be aware of depression.
Men are…well, men. Since many of us have been taught to conceal our emotions, the outward signs of depression are not obvious. According to the CDC, suicide rates are four times higher for men than women. If you are drinking excessively, acting aggressively or feeling hopeless, talk to your doctor. The rest of your team will miss you in the lineup if your contract gets cancelled.
- Listen to your wife or significant other.
There is research to show women are significantly more aware of health issues than men. In fact wives are the leading source of health information for many men. A CDC study found that women are twice as likely as men to schedule annual exams. Because they are more in tune with health and caring for others, respect what they have to say about your health and wellbeing. Listen and don’t argue the call, unless you want to receive a technical foul.
- Don’t ignore erectile dysfunction.
An article in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported a Canadian study of almost 4000 men. Men with ED were 50% more likely to have diabetes or heart disease. Sexual dysfunction is an early warning system because the same plaque buildup that clogs arteries in your heart may first damage the fine arteries to your penis. A blocked shot is bad enough, but being ejected from the game of life is far worse.
- Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness can be described as connecting yourself to your environment and emotions by focusing on the present without judgment. In the hustle and bustle of family, work, and chores…just living a highly-scheduled life, we may forget to stop and smell the Astroturf. If you think this is a bunch of hooey, perhaps you should Google “sports and mindfulness.” A popular website is Sports and the Mind, which describes how mindfulness is helping athletes in many sports, including golf, tennis, baseball and swimming among others.
Men, think of this list like perfecting the fundamentals of any sport. We all know practicing bunting is boring. Running a ladder drill is mind numbing. Perfecting a pick-and-roll is unexciting. The importance of self-care and maintenance to our health and wellbeing is vital. Practicing these fundamentals is so un-guy like, but do them anyway and take one for our team.
What are some self-care fundamentals you are practicing so that you can stay in the lineup?
Joe Stein, BS, MBA, is a Certified Personal Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Author, Health & Lifestyle Coach and CEO of Renaissance Fitness & Wellness, Inc., Shrewsbury, NJ.