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Man up for National Men’s Health Month

Dad. Daddy. Stepdad. Papa. Poppy. Grandpa. Grampy. Pepere. Abuelo. Uncle. Tío. Bro. Dude. Friend. Husband. Son. Nephew. Brother. Son-in-law.

Whichever name you answer to, your health matters – especially to those who love and depend on you. June is National Men’s Health Month, and it’s a perfect  time to “man up” and make your own health a priority! Overall, men could do a much better job making their health a priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/mens-health.htm):

  • 12.1% of men 18 years and over are in fair or poor health
  • 30.9% of men 18 years and over have had five or more alchoholic drinks in 1 day at least once in the past year
  • 20.9% of men 18 years currently smoke cigarettes (2011-2013)
  • 31.6% of men 20 years and over have been diagnosed with hypertension (measured high blood pressure and/or taking antihypertensive medication) (2009-2012)
  • 34.6% of men 20 years and over are obese (2009-2012)

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), obesity is directly linked to a poor diet and lack of exercise which is responsible for 14% of cancer deaths in men. (http://www.livestrong.com/article/480101-cancer-statistics-with-healthy-and-unhealthy-eating/)

589,430 Americans die of cancer each year, and one-third of these deaths are directly linked to a poor diet, physical inactivity, and being overweight. (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/dietandphysicalactivity/diet-and-physical-activity)

In addition, the Men’s Health Network (MHN) and the CDC confirm that, “In 1920, women lived, on average, one year longer than men. Now, men, on average, die almost five years earlier than women.” (http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/library/menshealthfacts.pdf)  This June, South County Physical Therapy, Inc. (SCPT) encourages men to make a commitment to their health and longevity by making smarter choices every day to achieve a goal of living a happier and healthier life.

Here are 4 easy ways to get started:

#1: Get some zzzs
According to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/men/nmhw/), “Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression.” In addition, the National Sleep Foundation confirms that the amount of sleep we need changes with age. Adults benefit from logging 7-9 hours per night.  To help ease your way into peaceful slumber, the National Sleep Foundation (http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-tools-tips/healthy-sleep-tips) recommends a consistent sleep schedule, a regular bedtime ritual, daily exercise, and avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, and late night electronics.  Unplug, unwind, and get ready to reset for a brand new day!

#2: Get hydrated
When Men’s Health Magazine asked nearly 500 men how they stay hydrated during the day, 54% drank 8 glasses of water a day, 20% drink when thirsty, and 26% drink whatever makes them pee (http://www.menshealth.com/health/clean-up-your-health-routine).

So what’s the right answer to how much water is enough? It depends. According to Stavros Kavouras, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Arkansas who studies hydration, “The eight-glasses rule is arbitrary.”  Diet, activity level, age, and climate can all impact how much water is needed daily. Instead, a good rule of thumb is to monitor bathroom visits and urine stream color to determine the right flow for you. Keeping your body hydrated throughout the day moves toxins through your kidneys and out of the body for better health. (http://www.webmd.com/allergies/tc/environmental-illness-toxins-in-our-environment)

#3: Get moving
The CDC recommends that adults participate in “at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) every week, and muscle strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) on two or more days a week.”  Strength training offers tremendous overall benefits to flexibility, movement, and helps control the “shrinking height” many of us experience as we age.

In addition to its health benefits, exercise can help alleviate stress, release “feel good” endorphins, and give you more energy. It also has a powerful impact on alertness and your overall sense of well being.

#4: Get scheduled
According to the MHN and the CDC, “Women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men.” (http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/library/menshealthfacts.pdf)

When work and commitments are your daily focus, it’s important to remind yourself to make prevention a priority. Annual physicals and routine screenings can help to monitor your metrics – weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and help prevent failing health before it takes you by surprise. Know your numbers, and stay on top of your game.

During National Men’s Health Month, consider scheduling your annual wellness appointments during the month of your birthday. In addition to a yearly physical, SCPT recommends scheduling a free movement screening where expert physical therapists assess the way you move to ensure that you’re taking all the rights steps to maintain flexibility, muscle strength, joint comfort, and range of motion as you age and seek to remain agile and youthful.

In support of National Men’s Health Month, SCPT is offering the opportunity to schedule a free movement screen at any of their six locations in Massachusetts (Auburn, Charlton, Millbury, Westborough on East Main Street and on Oak St., and in Worcester). Physical therapists learn about your problem areas, aches and pains, goals and challenges, and through assessing the mechanics of movement, they offer suggestions to help you hit your stride.

To schedule a free movement screen, please call SCPT at 508-832-2628 to make an appointment.

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