Welcome back and happy June! Are you noticing a sea of blues this month and wondering why? It’s a reminder that this is Men’s Health Month. Today is actually part of Men’s Health Week (June 12-18, 2017) so we want to take some time to chat about some of the things important to men’s health. Not a man? Don’t dash off; there’s sure to be something here you’ll find interesting!
Kevin Billups, M.D., recently commented “There is a crisis in America right now in men's health, and it affects every community. That crisis revolves around managing chronic medical diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease and high cholesterol. These common problems are causing men to die prematurely in the prime of their life.” Many of those diseases can be avoided altogether or their impact can be minimized by making lifestyle changes.
When you are trying to make lasting changes, sometimes the best way is to start small. Pick something that you know you can do and do it. Stick with it. Once you have incorporated that first step, then take another. Small successes are still successes; they are ultimately less stressful and lead to longer-lasting change. Plus, who doesn’t feel great about accomplishing a goal?
So, what are some steps you can take towards improved health? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following suggestions:
Sleep — This may sound like a small thing but insufficient sleep has been linked to a number of chronic conditions as well as significantly reduced motor-response. The recommendation for adults is between seven and nine hours. If you could head off a serious condition or an accident with just an addition hour or two of sleep, wouldn’t it be worth it? For more, check out CDC’s article “Are You Getting Enough Sleep?” and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) piece “Why Is Sleep Important?”
Quit — Yep, that again. If you smoke, quit. This one is a big hurdle for a lot of people but it can be done. There are some fantastic resources available to help cut yourself free from the nicotine noose; a good place to start is Smokefree.gov or CDC’s Quit Smoking page.
Move — You don’t have to jump right into doing triathlons (though if you already can, go you!). Take a page from Nike’s book and “Just do it”; find small ways to incorporate extra movement into your day. The little things really do add up. Check out CDC’s physical activity basics.
Eat Healthy — Increase fruits and veggies, limit sugars and highly processed foods, hydrate. You’ve doubtless heard that all before but it keeps coming up because it’s so important. The fuel your body has to work with is key to how you feel, your energy level and your overall health. Need a free tracker to help you stay on track? Try ChooseMyPlate.gov; you can also get their tips and ideas for healthy eating delivered right to your inbox!
Tame Stress — Stress can be good; it’s how we rev up for that pick-up game of basketball or increase our energy for a quick walk at lunch. It’s the constant bombardment of “fight or flight” chemicals that causes trouble. When you’re continually in that “emergency response” state, it leads to feeling overextended or overwhelmed. It also has dangerous repercussions on your overall health. Wrangle your stress like your life depends on it because, ultimately, it does. You can find some useful tips in CDC’s article “Coping With Stress”. Our blog post “Stress and Massage” is also chock full of information and well worth a read!
Be Proactive — Don’t be a bystander in your healthcare. Men are significantly less likely to go to a doctor than women and it shows; USA.gov reports “On average, men in the United States die five and a half years earlier than women and at a higher rate from 9 of the top 10 leading causes of death.” Educate yourself on issues like prostate cancer, cardiovascular health, and other issues that impact men; Men’s Health Resource Center can be a great place to start.
Including regular massage in your health regiment can help you with a number of these changes. You can find a discussion about the benefits of massage in our blog “Benefits of Swedish Massage” as well as Mayo Clinic’s talk about the benefits of massage as part of their in-depth discussion and a number of other sources. In short, massage has been shown to improve sleep, decrease pain and reduce stress. Other benefits include lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress-related hormone that, in the long-term, can be related to inflammation and heart disease. That’s a pretty solid return on your investment!
June has been Men’s Health Month since 1994 but it’s not the only month we hope you are focused on your wellbeing or that of the men in your life. Take the steps, however small they may seem, to take care of yourself every day. Make yourself and your self-care a priority. Be sure that includes the benefits of regular massage. Why? Because you matter, you make a difference, and you are worth it.
Let us make you a priority!