Let’s get down to business. According to a national survey conducted by Cleveland Clinic, only 43% of men ages 35-54 go to see a doctor for an annual checkup, and 20% of all men surveyed admitted to not being completely honest with their doctor about health issues that were affecting them. Among other things, traditional toxic notions of masculinity make it difficult for many men to ask for help, especially in regards to emotional or mental health issues.
To help push back against these trends, June has been designated as Men’s Health Month. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health has released “Five Plays for Men to Stay at the Top of Their Game,” a set of tips for men to take control of their health, helpfully presented as a sports metaphor.
#1: We will protect his heart
On average, men die five years earlier than women. They also die at higher rates from the leading causes of death among adults, and heart disease is number one. The HHS says that “Healthier food choices build a healthier heart,” and promotes making fruits and veggies a larger part of your diet. Check out some of our veggie filled cookbooks for some tasty ideas on heart healthy meals.
#2: Bro, you don’t even have to lift
Being physically active doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym every day for sick gains. While that’s certainly a thing you can do, there are many other ways you can achieve your recommended 30 minutes a day. According to the CDC, 57% of men meet the recommended physical activity guidelines for aerobic activity. We have tons of books to help you find an exercise routine that fits your lifestyle. Perhaps you’d like to give yoga a try?
#3: Preventive maintenance
In addition to regular checkups, the American Cancer Society recommends that men should start getting screened for colorectal cancer at age 45. It’s one of the most common cancers in the United States, and responsible for the second most cancer deaths. Colonoscopies might feel daunting for various reasons, but for men of a certain age it can be a matter of life and death. While there’s not a similar urgency for prostate screening, it’s something many men should consider, especially if they have a family history. Talk to your healthcare provider to figure out what’s best for you.
#4: Quitting time
Overcoming nicotine addiction takes a tremendous amount of willpower—and you might need all the motivation you can get. These days most everybody knows that smoking is bad for you, but some men might be unaware that in addition to cancer, heart disease, and strokes, smoking can also be a cause of erectile dysfunction. 46% of men surveyed by Cleveland Clinic said that of all the issues to discuss with their doctor, talking about sexual health made them the most uncomfortable. Admitting that you’re experiencing these issues can feel emasculating, but that’s all the more reason to see your doctor and be honest about your experience. Health professionals are there to help you out, and your conversations will be confidential.
#5: Hey man, you good?
According to the CDC, roughly 13% of men receive any kind of mental health treatment, including medication or counseling, compared to nearly 25% of women. Meanwhile, men are almost 4 times as likely to die from suicide than women. Open and honest communication about emotions can be difficult for men used to the repressive shackles of toxic masculinity, but tending to your emotional and mental health is just as important as your physical fitness.
References and Further Readings:
5 plays for men’s health. (2047). OMH. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/Blog/BlogPost.aspx?BlogID=203
Bates, D. (2019, November 20). Men are afraid to ask for help. Psychology Today. Retrieved April 2, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mental-health-nerd/201911/men-are-afraid-ask-help
Buggey, H. (2019, September 4). Cleveland Clinic survey: men will do almost anything to avoid going to the doctor. Cleveland Clinic Newsroom. Retrieved April 2, 2022, from https://newsroom.clevelandclinic.org/2019/09/04/cleveland-clinic-survey-men-will-do-almost-anything-to-avoid-going-to-the-doctor/
Fifield, K. (2018, May 31). Colonoscopies should start at age 45, cancer society says. AARP. Retrieved April 2, 2022, from https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/colon-rectal-cancer-deaths.html
Ianzito, C. (2018, May 18). More accurate prostate cancer screening. AARP. Retrieved April 2, 2022, from https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/new-prostate-cancer-test.html
Ianzito, C. (2019, September 6). Why men don’t go to the doctor. AARP. Retrieved April 2, 2022, from https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2019/survey-men-avoiding-doctors.html
Men’s health. (2022, February 2). CDC. Retrieved April 2, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/mens-health.htm
Men’s health month. (2021, July 7). OMH. Retrieved April 2, 2022, from https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/content.aspx?ID=10238&lvl=2&lvlid=12
Suicide data: United States. (2021, January). AFSP. Retrieved April 2, 2022, from https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/
Terlizzi, E. (2020, September). Mental health treatment among adults: United States, 2019. CDC. Retrieved April 2, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db380.htm
Wurst, M. (2022). Colonoscopy: your questions answered. Lehigh Valley Health Network. Retrieved April 2, 2022, from https://www.lvhn.org/news/colonoscopy-your-questions-answered