November Is Men’s Health Awareness Month
The average American man lives only about 77 years. That’s approximately five years less than what the average American woman lives.
Medical professionals say there are a number of reasons for this. Including men’s lack of awareness and understanding of the health issues they face.
In addition, men are frequently reluctant to openly discuss their health problems. And to take action when they don’t feel well. In fact, men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor in the past year.
Men also have a tendency to engage in risky activities threatening their health more often than women do.
Movember and NoShavember
The purpose of designating November as Men’s Health Awareness Month is to combat those reasons. And to help men live happier, healthier and longer lives.
Bringing attention to men’s health in this manner is the Movember Foundation. It was launched in 2003 by Travis Garone and Luke Slattery in Melbourne, Australia.
Movember focuses on men’s health. NoShavember aims at fighting cancer, regardless of gender.
They started with 30 participants (called “Mo Bros”) in 2003. Now there are more than 6 million Mo Bros and Mo Sisters, according to their online site.
17 Years of Growth
The Movember Foundation was ranked as one of the top 100 non-governmental groups in the world. That was by the Switzerland-based Global Journal in 2012.
More than 20 countries participate in Movember each year. The group has raised over $700 million to battle cancer. It has done this through donations and more than 1,250 men’s health projects.
The group’s founders want to turn men away from their “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. And make men aware of ways they can improve their health. Even if they think they feel fine.
The foundation encourages men to grow mustaches during November. That’s in order to spark conversation. And raise funds for the treatment of various men’s health issues. The connection is that many people lose hair during chemotherapy.
The group attributes its growth and success to the global community. “Regardless of the city in which we live,” their online site states, “we’re part of something bigger, united by a commitment to help change the face of men’s health.”
South Louisiana Medical Associates offers tips to men who want to be healthy and happy and live longer.
They are all habits we can form that eventually will become second nature to us. Among them are:
- Maintain a healthy diet with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. Consume plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Pay attention to how you eat. Slice food thinly and chew foods thoroughly before swallowing. Add lemon to tea to boost antioxidant levels.
- Exercise regularly in age- and health-appropriate ways. Staying active benefits your entire body. It strengthens heart health, builds muscle tone and boosts mood.
- Get plenty of safe exposure to sunlight. It makes Vitamin D from the cholesterol in your skin cells. Augment this with foods containing Vitamin D. Including cod liver oil, salmon, canned tuna, egg yolks and others.
- Don’t neglect your mental health. This is a much misunderstood area and one many people don’t feel comfortable discussing. Depression can negatively affect sleep and the ability to function at work. It can also make us feel less motivated to eat well and get the proper amount of exercise.
- Savor the little things. While taking a leisurely walk, pay attention to pleasing sights, sounds and smells. Rather than on what chore you need to accomplish when you get back home.
Here are a few additional suggestions for men who wish to take their health seriously.
- Get an annual physical exam from your primary care provider. Including blood work, blood pressure and cholesterol measurements, weight check, etc.
- Screen for your particular risk factors, depending on age and lifestyle. This could include screening for heart and thyroid disease, diabetes, depression and dementia.
- Seek out friends with whom you can engage and laugh.
- Avoid tobacco products and non-prescription drugs.
- Don’t become a workaholic, which will add stress to your life.
- Don’t engage in high-risk behavior. That could be anything from refusing to wear a seatbelt in a car to texting while driving.
If we can develop good health habits this month during Men’s Health Awareness Month, we could carry them over into December and beyond.
All of us should have the goal of living happier, healthier and longer lives. Even if we don’t grow a mustache.