It’s Men’s Health Awareness Month, and guess what–a majority of men don’t prioritize their health. As a man working on this, I’ve found this problem stems from a low prioritization of our own bodies. We take care of our careers, our family members, and our relationships first, but we place our own physical health last. This even extends to gym-goers and bodybuilders. Sure, we have Crossfit and a mountain of protein supplements, but many people get critically injured with Crossfit, and many of those vitamin supplements are still full of sugar or dairy–things that contribute to poor health.
Statistics show that on average, men die five years earlier than women. This has to mean something, if not a warning sign to take care of ourselves. (Or it’s evidence that women are truly the strong ones, but we won’t get into that here.)
People are dying in droves because of poor health; we just aren’t aware of how bad our habits are. First, we have to look at what exactly is killing us, then we can take steps to prevent it.
What Is Killing Us?
Modern technology has eliminated many threats that killed us even 50 years ago. Unfortunately, these are the main issues that we still have to worry about:
- Suicide from depression
- Prostate cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
Not the sexiest list, is it? When men talk about how they want to die, it usually doesn’t involve taking their own life or a sudden heart attack. However, we don’t have threats in contemporary life like wars or fighting off bears. (If we must look at traditional “masculine” ways of dying) Our new enemies are food and mental illness.
Do you know which on this list is killing one-entire-third of Americans? It’s not diabetes, which is what all of our commercials seem to talk about. It’s heart disease. However, we don’t see that on the news. While cardiovascular health is an issue for both men and women, for now, we’ll focus on what men can do to stave off this incredible killer.
Luckily for overall men’s health, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression are connected. Scientists are finding that our gut flora, the bacteria living inside our digestive system, has a role to play in our mental health. So, taking care of what we eat can influence our mental wellbeing. This will simultaneously solve most of these issues except for prostate cancer.
Besides the digestive issues, we really need to start talking about our feelings and teaching these habits in our male children. It’s no longer okay to brush off serious mental illness as stoicism. Masculinity can be just as powerful when we take our emotions in hand and learn to deal with them in healthy ways.
For the prostate problem, we have another solution here that we think you’ll like.
So, we know now that the fight for our lives resides on our dinner plates. What’s next?
What Can We Do?
It’s not just our diets; we must get involved with overall well-being. This means not only watching our diets and exercising regularly but also taking our mental health and emotional intelligence in hand. It’s no longer excusable to blame others for our vices.
This means scheduling doctor visits, both to a physician and a therapist. It also means not eating all those wings and drinking 70 beers (At least not every week, you can keep Superbowl Sunday. We’re not heartless.) While your buddies may look at you funny for ordering a salad every other party, your heart health is more important than fitting in. If they are truly your friends, they’ll support your healthy habits.
And you should get them involved too! Maybe schedule gym visits all together and work out with fitness in mind, not just huge biceps and washboard abs. While they are nice to look at, your external muscles need to be built well. With so many exercise and men’s health programs out there, you can afford to be choosy. Look into which ones support a whole-body experience and not just getting you ripped as soon as possible. Look for workouts like this one here.
The bottom line for men’s health is this: get to a doctor and ask for a no-nonsense laundry list for what you need to improve your health. Most likely, this is going to involve throwing some green stuff onto your plate and generating a sustainable workout routine at the gym. You can do Crossfit if you want, but seriously be careful with that program. After that, read some books over emotional intelligence, you’ll be surprised at what you can learn. Involve a therapist if you believe professional help is necessary, but most likely, just understanding how you think can make a huge difference. We can make our society a healthier place, as smarter, more aware individuals, and as men.