June is “Men’s Health Awareness” month and a good time for men to connect with their physical and mental well-being. Studies show that men ignore their healthcare more than women and frequently put off visiting a health care provider. A nation-wide poll conducted for Orlando Health found that a third of men surveyed didn’t think they needed annual health screenings. Two-thirds thought they were healthier than other men, a statistical impossibility.

Building a relationship with a primary care clinician who can keep tabs on changes in health over time is an essential part of that journey. Checkups, screenings, and blood tests are all part of successfully navigating a long life. To assess your fitness, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I exercise regularly?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity (walking biking, and so forth) and twice weekly muscle strengthening activity (like weightlifting). The goal isn’t to run a marathon, but to break a sweat and keep your heart in top condition. Strength training, cardio activity, and flexibility help to maintain the muscle mass, healthy circulation, and bone density. Physical fitness also reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and dementia. Even the simple step of moving more and sitting less can make a difference. Consult with your Kinwell clinician if you have any questions about your new fitness routine.

How am I feeling?

The American Journal of Men’s Health reports that men are less likely to seek mental health treatment than women.  Men often pay less attention to their mental health and yet often carry heavy burdens. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention notes that the highest rates of suicide occur in middle-aged white men. Overall, men are three times as likely to die by suicide as women. Recognizing when things are going well and reaching out for help when they aren’t is an essential skill in maintaining overall health. Mental health professionals can provide proven techniques to deal with depression, stress, and substance misuse. Your clinician will likely ask about your support system of friends and relatives. They can offer tips on coping with a loss or dealing with anxiety, can prescribe medication, and refer you to a consultation with Kinwell’s behavioral health team. The process begins with open communication. You can discuss any situation, physical or mental, with your Kinwell clinician in an honest, non-judgmental manner.

How’s my diet?

Diet can be a crucial aspect in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association notes the importance of understanding how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain a healthy weight. Age plays a role here as men in their 50s typically need 200 fewer calories per day than men in their 30s. Sources of calories should vary from fruits and vegetables to whole grains and healthy protein (legumes, fish, and nuts). And don’t forget about water. According to the National Academies of Sciences, men should have about 3.7 liters of water daily from all beverages and food. That’s the equivalent of fifteen 8-ounce glasses. See this post for simple steps you can take to improve your eating habits.

What about my spare tire?

Genes play a role in how men gain weight and where it is stored in the body. The Mayo Clinic notes that belly fat can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, colorectal cancer, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. It’s easy to determine if you have too much belly fat. Wrap a tape measure around your belly just above the hip bone. Relax your belly and take a measurement with the tape level and not cinching into your skin. A measurement of more than 40 inches indicates your belly could present a problem to your overall health. Time to eat healthy, monitor portion size, and increase physical activity. What you eat and how much you exercise determines whether you gain or lose belly fat.

What changes can I make to improve my wellness?

Even small choices can have a major impact on health. The choice to use tobacco or to quit can mean the difference between healthy golden years and the possibility of heart disease, emphysema, lung cancer, and liver disease. The CDC notes that even secondhand smoke contributes to 41,000 deaths each year.

Men drink more alcohol than women and are more likely to binge d-ink. Males account for more than three-quarters of deaths related to excessive drinking. Even moderate alcohol consumption can increase the risk of cancer and sexual dysfunction in the long term. In younger men, alcohol can contribute to risky behavior and accidental death. The CDC notes that drinking less improves mental and physical well-being.

Restful sleep is another important choice for long-term health. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends seven or more hours of sleep each night. Diet, fitness, and age can influence how long we sleep. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can have long-term health impacts, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and depression.  Regular exercise, getting outside, and limiting screen time can improve sleep patterns.

You can talk to your Kinwell clinician about any physical or mental issue you’re facing. They can track vital statistics such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. They can also keep you up to date with vaccinations and cancer screenings. Best of all, they can provide peace of mind that your health journey is on course and any potentially serious conditions will be caught early when they can best be treated. Reach your Kinwell team through the MyChart app or call 833-411-5469 to schedule an appointment.