National Men’s Health Week begins

Many men are taught from a young age to have a different viewpoint when it comes to their personal health.

You’ve heard the phrases.

“Man up.”

“Rub some dirt on it.”

“Walk it off.”

You’ve no doubt heard them all and their countless variations.

There is something to be said for having a higher pain tolerance and being able to push through when others cannot. There is something to be said for being able to function, despite suffering from pain or illness, when the situations calls for it.

But as a result, many men have learned to “deal” with their issues, no matter how minor or major, rather than to seek help or assistance.

As men grow older, and even during their younger days, sometimes they do need help. And when it comes to health issues, it’s not the time to allow pride or a sense of “manliness” to get in the way.

That’s part of the reason that National Men’s Health Month, and subsequently, National Men’s Health Week, were created.

Starting Monday and running through Sunday, Father’s Day, National Men’s Health Week gives health care providers, public policy makers, the media and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.

The response, since President Bill Clinton signed the measure into law in 1994, has been overwhelming. Hundreds of awareness activities and informational sessions are held each year, both nationally and around the world.

When it comes to promoting men’s health, the movement has to start with preventative medicine.

That’s the one area men fail at the most. Most men simply wait until what once was a minor issue becomes a major problem before getting it checked. Sometimes, by the time a problem is discovered, it’s too late.

Men should see their primary care physician regularly for checkups and return for any tests the doctor suggests.

Some diseases and conditions do not display outward symptoms, so without taking preventative measures, there is no way to combat a problem early.

Starting at age 18, men should have their blood pressure checked at least once every two years. If you are obese, use tobacco, have diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of cardiac problems, you should get your cholesterol levels checked every year starting at age 20. Without any of the aforementioned issues, start getting it checked at age 35.

At age 50, men should start getting colorectal examinations to keep an eye on any problems that may lead to prostate cancer.

It’s a good idea to get an official determination on your Body Mass Index (BMI) too, as obesity is becoming an increasing problem nationally.

Along with preventative checkups comes preventative actions and steps men can take to lessen any condition or prevent them entirely.

Some of these steps require some effort. Some are fairly simple.

Case in point, sleep. Aside from insomnia sufferers, sleep is one of the easiest activities you can participate in. Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions like diabetes, obesity and depression, yet far too many men get well below the 7-9 hours of sleep suggested by the National Sleep Foundation.

Eating healthy and getting enough exercise are both two activities that will greatly aid a person’s physical health.

The key to maintaining your health is to get moving. That’s not just a reference to exercise, but in general. Get moving on improving your health, through proper diet and exercise, preventative checkups, proper screening and tests.

Being tough is one thing. Being stubborn and bullheaded and not doing what is necessary to live a long and happy life is another.

You don’t look like a tough guy passing away early because of a disease or condition that, through proper maintenance and treatment, you could have recovered from or, quite possibly, never had to begin with.