June is a good time to remind men, fathers or not, to take some simple steps to improve health habits. Habits can keep us stuck and on a path to poor health and ill-being, or they can move us toward better health and well-being. How many of the following healthful habits, identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are you putting into everyday practice?
• Eat a healthier diet. Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy, and smaller servings of lean protein. Reduce sodium intake and saturated fats.
• Find ways to manage your stress. To prevent stress levels from pushing you past your control point, find a support system and time do things you enjoy. Support may come from family, friends, co-workers, religious groups, or belonging to something (think a running group, civic group, band, etc.). Take some time each week to enjoy a relaxing hobby like walking the dog (through the park), listening to music, reading, playing with your children or grandchildren, building or restoring things, fishing or hunting, or play chess or cards.
• Tame your tobacco habit. If you haven’t already, it is never too late to quit smoking or using tobacco. This is one time it is absolutely OK to be a quitter! Doing so will reduce your risks of heart disease, cancer, and other lung problems.
• Be more physically active. Find a way to exercise for at least 30 minutes on five or more days a week. Remember you can divide this time up, 15 minutes at lunch and 15 minutes after work. Increased exercise may help with weight loss, control of diabetic symptoms, prevention of cancer, cholesterol control, stress management and can improve mood.
• Be safe. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of fatal accidents for men, so wearing a seat belt or motorcycle helmet, following traffic laws, and not using alcohol while driving can prevent serious health problems for men and their families.
• Get regular health check-ups and tests. Make sure to get your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels checked. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations and get that free flu shot they offer at work. If you notice a change in your health, talk to your doctor – waiting can often make things worse. For a list of regular check-ups and screenings for men go to the US Department of Health and Human Services at http://go.osu.edu/menshealth.
What are you going to do to improve your health?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/men/nmhw/.
Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mens-health/MC00013.
US Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/patient-involvement/healthy-men/healthy-men.pdf.
Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, email@example.com.
Reviewer: Kirk Bloir, Program Director, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.