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As we move into the month of June with all the uncertainty that is affecting this nation, we should not lose sight of the importance of men’s health.  

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Since 1994 the purpose of Men’s Health Month has been to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage men to take control of their health, and for families to teach young boys healthy habits throughout childhood.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women and die at higher rates from the three leading causes of death, heart disease, cancer and unintentional injuries.

Men are also less likely to be insured which adds to the challenge to be involved fathers, supportive partners and engaged community members. 

More: Coronavirus pandemic accentuates health disparities

A prior column in the April 28 edition of the Tallahassee Democrat focused on the issue of health disparities within the United States with a focus on the minority population group. Not only the issue of COVID-19 but other chronic diseases impacting this group were discussed.

There are quite a few things that we can do to help encourage dad as Father’s Day nears — and even more that all of us can do to help men all year.

 A few suggestions follow:

Get a physical

Most of the factors that contribute to men’s shorter, less healthy lives are preventable.

And that prevention starts with seeing a healthcare provider on a regular basis. Adult men in the United States visit primary care providers at lower rates than adult women.

Establishing baselines for factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and PSA (a screening test for prostate cancer risk)—and monitoring how they change over time—will enable the provider to catch potentially dangerous conditions early, when they’re still treatable. 

Just get physical

The benefits of physical activity on health outcomes are extensive, and many people find it difficult to get motivated for physical activity on their own. Rather than simply telling your dad to exercise and then hoping that he will, do it with him.  

Make sure that you follow guidelines for wearing a mask and practicing distancing guidelines from the CDC and local and state authorities. Simply make a routine out of regular walks may be one option. This is a simple ask but not always easy to do.

Let him know you care

One reason men disregard their own health is that they’re too busy taking care of everyone else. What they don’t realize, however, is that if they die early, they’ll be hurting the very people they’ve worked so hard to protect.

So remind him that you and your other family members love him and need him to be alive and healthy for as long as possible.

Help promote positive messages

One resource from the Office of Minority Health (OMH) of the Department of Health and Human Services, Five Plays for Men’s Health reminds men and boys that they can improve their health by seeking medical advice and taking other important steps, such as making healthy food choices, staying active, quitting smoking, getting regular checkups and taking care of their mental health.

Resources

Men’s Health Network is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to reach men, boys, and their families where they live, work, play, and pray with health awareness and disease prevention messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and patient navigation. Links to some helpful resources follow.

Search through the various disease categories compiled by the Men’s Health Network through their Men’s Resource Center

More specific information on male health issues and concerns for aging men can be found at menshealthresourcecenter.com.

If you’d like to receive free bi-weekly updates from Men’s Health Network consider signing-up for the e-newsletter at menshealthnetwork.org.

References: Office of Minority Health, US Department of Health & Human Services at 

minorityhealth.hhs.gov.

Mark A. Mahoney, Ph.D. has been a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for over 30 years and completed graduate studies in Nutrition & Public Health at Columbia University. He can be reached at marqos69@hotmail.com.

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