April 19, 2014

Let’s Hear It for the Boys!

I like to think my readers are divided up evenly between males and females.  I try to keep my posts gender non-specific, but sometimes I feel as if I err on the side of the ladies.  Maybe it’s because women tend to fuss about their weight and appearance more so than men. Research shows the majority of the “fairer” sex are more health-conscious, that is, females are more apt than males to see their doctor regularly, less likely to engage in risky behaviors, and more likely to consume more healthful foods.

What’s up with this, guys?  Some experts believe that men are programmed to have that “devil may care” attitude. We see this in the animal kingdom: the male has to (literally) fight other males for the female’s attention. This guttural instinct has filtered down through the ages and is reflected within the modern man as bravado (picks fights in bars), risk-taking (drives aggressively), stubbornness (refuses to get a prostate exam), and even apathy (eats whatever he likes and doesn’t care how it affects his health).

So how to change this? Um, I’m sorry, you want to change a man? Silly rabbits. Unless you were born yesterday, everyone knows you can’t change a man.  But you CAN inform him, and let him make his own decisions. Men need to be TOLD what they need to do for their health, they generally won’t come up with a game plan on their own.  So to make things easy on everyone, I’ve come up with a list of “to dos” for the guys:

~Have your body mass index (BMI) calculated. If 25 or over, it’s time to cut back the calories, and ramp up the physical activity.

~Have your cholesterol checked annually starting at age 35. Younger than 35? Talk to  your doc about whether to have your cholesterol checked if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, if heart disease runs in your family, or you smoke.

~Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years.

~ Have a test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. If you have a family history of  colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened earlier.

~ Have a test for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

~Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt”down,” sad, or hopeless over the last 2 weeks, you may want to talk to your doctor about being screened for depression – no shame in this.

~ Talk to your MD to see whether you should be tested for sexually transmitted infections (including HIV).

Lastly: don’t smoke, drink alcohol only in moderation, exercise at least four times per week for 30 minutes or more, consume a healthy diet (lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats-call me if you’ve got questions), and allow yourself some down-time from work and family obligations. Let’s hear it for the boys!