Does your doctor ask about your alcohol habits? Doing so could save lives
Let’s take a deep breath here and say that we love men. We appreciate them. We cannot imagine a world without them. Thus, we can often overlook certain shenanigans that make us cringe a bit.
Unless such recklessness comes at the expense of their health. So in the interest of keeping men on the planet as long as possible (which is already, on average, five years shorter than for women), we’ve asked experts what they wish men knew — and would incorporate into their lives.
“Where do we start?” said Sid O’Bryant, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth. “There are a lot of things I want to convey, not only for men to understand they’re not just important for the heart, but also for how your brain ages.”
One of the key things he finds frustrating is how men don’t think about brain health during aging.
“They wait till they’re in their 80s and then say, ‘I wish I would have done things differently,’” said O’Bryant, an Alzheimer’s researcher. “Women plan better. Women plan to age. They actually think about it. We men plan for a financial future for our family. We think how our wives will be taken care of when we’re gone, but not how we can be around longer.”
If men pay attention to these nine things the experts want them to know, who’s to say how much that life-span age gap can narrow?
Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. Depression is a real physiological event, said certified athletic trainer Ken Locker. But “most men don’t think they have depression because they don’t cry easily.”
Men don’t talk about depression, O’Bryant said. “And if we don’t talk about it, it isn’t real.”
What to do: Don’t be ashamed to talk to your family doctor, who can recommend a professional counselor or prescribe medications.
Yoga isn’t just a girl thing. Men need to realize that bench-pressing three days a week isn’t going to cut it, workout-wise, Locker said. They need cardio, and another good choice is yoga.
What to do: Ask friends for recommendations, then try a class. Get there a few minutes early. If you don’t like it, talk to the instructor, or try another. Don’t give up after one class.
“No pain, no gain” is stupid. Even in less than a year of being a certified chiropractor, Logan Sherman has witnessed plenty of examples of this belief not taken seriously.
“The big thing I see with a lot of male patients is that they potentially push past the minor things that could be caught at an earlier stage,” he said, “and are now related to an injury.”
What to do: If you feel a twinge, rest.
Certain cancer screenings are imperative. “Prostate cancer is the easiest cancer to kill if it’s detected,” Locker said. But men would happily skip that part of a physical, he said. Another villain is colon cancer, which can be detected early.
What to do: Schedule the screenings, for crying out loud.
You don’t need a gym to be fit. “Gravity,” Locker said, “was the first gym ever invented.”
What to do: Pushups, crunches and squats can be done anywhere. Ditto for walking.
Your job is not a workout. Even if you do manual labor for a living, “physical activity is above and beyond anything you do in daily life,” O’Bryant said. “It has to be extra.”
You need to raise your heart rate on a regular basis.
“Physical activity has such broad-based benefits for men,” O’Bryant said. “It can reduce depression, help your memory, help your brain at a basic biological level. It may actually reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s.”
What to do: Move. And switch it up, Sherman said.
You don’t automatically know what exercise to do. “What men do that’s the biggest problem in exercise is not asking for help,” O’Bryant said. “It’s like that asking for directions thing. I go to the gym, and see people there for the first time and they think they automatically know what they’re doing. But they’re probably doing it wrong.”
What to do: Use a trainer. Most gyms offer a free session with membership. Or research the correct way to work out efficiently.
Sunscreen isn’t for wimps. Yes, men get skin cancer, too.
What to do: Use face cream with SPF of at least 15, Locker said. “It will keep your face looking younger and also prevent skin cancer.”
Schedule a skin check at least once a year.
Exercising isn’t a free license to eat anything. “Men who are successful getting into physical activity often think that’s enough,” O’Bryant said. “’I work out so I can eat what I want.’ ‘I work out so I can drink whatever I want.’
“Instead, you’re negating the benefits,” he said.
What to do: Think moderation. Also remember that diet “is not only related to heart health, but intimately related to brain health,” O’Bryant said. “It’s very, very powerful.”