Making Men's Health a Priority

Stephanie Specht's picture
By Stephanie Specht on November 1, 2018

My husband is extremely meticulous about his truck (see a picture below). He never misses a tune up, an oil change, it gets a regular bath, and it is kitted out for any kind of adventure a guy can dream of; however, if you ask him when he last went to the doctor, he could not tell you.

This tends to be the case with a lot of men. In the United States, men live almost five years less than women, and overall, men are less likely to discuss men's health issues and other stressors in their life. Compared to women, men are also more likely to:

  • Smoke
  • Drink alcohol
  • Make unhealthy or risky choices
  • Put off regular checkups and medical care

But this November, or "Movember,” is the perfect time to focus on men's health and work to change those stats. Mark H. Greenawald, M.D., Carilion Clinic's resident Mo Bro and family medicine physician, shares some of his top tips to help men make their health a priority.

Men's Health Tip #1: Set a health goal and get started today

Men tend to do better when we have a goal to work toward. So make one and make it specific. If it's weight loss, figure out how much you want to lose, when you want to hit your goal and how you will hit that number. If it is exercising more; it is the same idea. Think about what, when, where, how and also perhaps with whom. If you've not had a medical check up recently, perhaps that could be your first goal!

But no matter your goal, the most important question to answer is why you want to do this. Then tell someone about your goal. The chance of succeeding is much greater when you have a compelling why and when someone else knows your goal.

Men's Health Tip #2: Know your targets

In order to stay healthy, we men need to know the target we're shooting for. Do you know your target weight, blood pressure and lipids? How about the recommendations for exercise and nutrition? Do you know what screening tests are recommended for a man your age?

If you've not done so in the last year, now's a great time to make an appointment with your primary care team to make sure you're regularly hitting your health target!

Men's Health Tip #3: Create an outlet

Time and time again I see men who are experiencing significant stress in their lives, but they're not dealing with it well. Rather than finding constructive ways to address it, such as exercise or hobbies, they stuff it down inside or let it leak out as anger or even seek unhealthy ways of dealing with it, such as eating too much, drinking too much alcohol, smoking or even misusing drugs or medications.

The cost to our health and our relationships is substantial. Take time to reflect on how stress is impacting your life. Then make a constructive plan on how to deal with it and move forward.

Men's Health Tip #4: Maintain close relationships

Much research has shown that having close relationships will greatly enhance our health, but research has also shown that we men are sometimes challenged to let other people know how much they matter to us. Why not use the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday as a time to let your loved ones know how much they mean to you by telling them so? I will make it easy for you:

" _____ (insert name here), one of the many reasons I love you is _____. I'm so thankful you're in my life."

It just could be the best Thanksgiving ever.

What are you waiting for? Movember is a great time to move toward a better life!

Both hands on the wheel, dear!