From birth, men get societal messages about 'how to be a man.' While some are positive, others take a toll on good health. Expectations about toughness and hiding pain can lead men to deny health problems and keep them from seeking medical help.
Research indicates that men who accept traditional attitudes about masculinity are less likely to engage in healthy behaviors. College men also have consistently higher rates of risky behavior than their female counterparts, including:
- unsafe driving, including driving after drinking;
- dietary supplement use;
- alcohol and drug use;
- carrying weapons;
- fighting; and
- riskier sexual practices, including sex under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
To make matters worse, college men's health-promoting behaviors have been found to decrease over time, while those of college women increase.
Tips for better health
Taking better care of yourself can start with these simple tips, adapted from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control:
Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day and less saturated fat can help improve your health and may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Have a balanced diet, and watch how much you eat.
Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity is at an all time high in the United States, and the epidemic may be getting worse. Those who are overweight or obese have increased risks for diseases and conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
More than 50 percent of American men and women don’t get enough physical activity to provide health benefits. For adults, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week is recommended. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money, but it does take commitment. Start slowly, work up to a satisfactory level, and don’t overdo it.
Health concerns associated with smoking include cancer and lung disease. Second-hand smoke – smoke that you inhale when others smoke – also affects your health. If you smoke, quit today! For help, check out UHS’ tobacco cessation program. Call Health Education, 577-5181, to learn more.
Get routine exams and screenings
Based on your age, health history, lifestyle, and other important issues, you and your health care provider can determine how often you need to be examined and screened for certain diseases and conditions. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, and cancers of the skin, prostate, and colon. When problems are found early, your chances for treatment and cure are better. Routine exams and screenings can help save lives.
They’re not just for kids. Adults need them too. Some vaccinations are for everyone. Others are recommended if you work in certain jobs, have certain lifestyles, travel to certain places, or have certain health conditions. Protect yourself from illness and disease by keeping up with your vaccinations.
What’s your stress level today? Protect your mental and physical health by engaging in activities that help you manage your stress.
Know yourself and your risks
Your parents and ancestors help determine some of who you are. Your habits, environment and lifestyle also help to define your health and your risks. Being healthy means doing some homework, knowing yourself, and knowing what’s best for you.
What comes to mind when you think about safety and protecting yourself? Is it fastening seat belts, applying sunscreen, wearing helmets, or having smoke detectors? It’s all of these and more. It’s everything from washing your hands to watching your relationships. Take steps to protect yourself and others wherever you are.
Be good to yourself
Health is not merely the absence of disease; it’s a lifestyle. Whether it’s getting enough sleep, relaxing after a stressful day, or enjoying a hobby, it’s important to take time to be good to yourself.