Father's Day, the week before, and now the entire month have all increasingly become a time to focus on men's health awareness and activity. President Bill Clinton signed a bill on May 31, 1994, establishing National Men’s Health Week to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men. By extension, June has become Men's Health Month, which now includes hundreds of awareness activities in the U.S. and around the globe.
Men Lose the Health Race
Men should heed the message of these observances. For starters, men don't live as long as women and are losing ground. According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the average American male has a life expectancy of about 76.2 years (compared to women, who on average live past 81). That imbalance has grown far larger over the past century. In 1920, women lived, on average, one year longer than men. Now, men, on average, die almost five years earlier than women.
Men die at higher rates than women from the top ten causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, injuries and homicide, stroke, suicide, and HIV/AIDS. And while many of these problems can be avoided or better managed, in general, men don't appear to be taking sufficient action to manage their health compared to the opposite sex. Multiple studies indicate that women are twice as likely to receive annual physicals and participate in preventive activities than men.
What Can You Do? Strategies to Improve Men's Health
Luckily, men can take action. There are several key activities and behaviors that can greatly improve men's overall health, better their odds of avoiding serious health
- Establishing a relationship with a primary care practitioner, getting a regular physical exam, and following up with recommended tests and screenings
- Fully and carefully complying with your medication schedule
- Quitting smoking
- Following your primary caregiver's plan to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, or other chronic health problems
- Eating a healthy diet
- Becoming more physically active
And for any men who live alone or have mobility issues, a medical alert system can be a great investment, allowing the individual to summon help at the touch of a button, After all, in the event of a fall or some other medical emergency, quick access to help can make all the difference.
Men's Health Is a Family Matter
A man’s health risks and mistakes not only affect