Going to the doctors was never something I enjoyed, but after a series of stomach pains in May of 2007, enough was enough.
My doctor ordered a CAT Scan and shortly after, he told me he found a large mass. Two weeks later, I started chemotherapy – it was non-Hodgkins Burkitt’s lymphoma – a very rare and aggressive cancer that called for an equally aggressive type of chemo.
Just as it was for me, it’s imperative that men seek out medical treatment for both routine and unexpected exams, and that we take steps daily to improve our health. As National Men’s Health Week begins, we can make strides to do better.
The numbers show there is room for improvement. Most recent data from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality show that men are 25 percent less likely than women to have visited a health-care provider in the past year. Men are also almost 40 percent more likely than women to have skipped recommended cholesterol screenings.
Those actions can have serious consequences. Men are 1.5 times more likely than women to die from heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. The adage that women live longer than men is also born out by statistics – men, on average, die five years earlier than women.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We have the tools, technology, and competence to take these matters into our own hands.
The first step towards overall health is to live your life as if an athlete. Stay at a healthy weight through regular physical activity and eating right. Adults need at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity activity each week and should do muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week, the Center for Disease Control suggests. Fruits and vegetables will help provide you fuel for that fight, while helping supplementing salty or fatty foods.
Physical fitness has always been a part of my life, but I do understand how hard it can be to for busy guys to get motivated and to fit it into their routine. Try writing down workout times in your daily calendar as if it were a meeting, and figure out what time of day you’re most motivated to exercise.
As everyone knows, tossing out the tobacco has immediate and long-term health benefits. Data shows that within the first few cigarette-free hours, you lower your heart rate and blood pressure, which spike while smoking. Long-term, you lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and lung disease, CDC reports say.
A healthy body, of course, starts with a healthy mind. De-stress through exercise, or pick up yoga or some other form of meditation.
Set yourself up for success the next day with a good night’s sleep. Sleep needs change as we age, according to the National Sleep Foundation, but aim for seven to nine hours a night.
Even with all of these things, we can’t fight for our health alone. Schedule regular checkups to track your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Frequent screenings for common diseases and cancers can also help find and treat problems in their earliest stages.
In other words, you don’t have to wait until you’re full of aches and pains to see a doctor. Schedule yearly checkups and see a specialist at the first sign that something is wrong.
Together, we can be an example for our fathers, brothers and sons. Together, we can make sure we’re present and healthy for a long time to come.
– Joe Andruzzi