Men’s Health Month: Tips for Living Longer, Healthier Lives

By Cmdr. James Callan, M.D., Naval Hospital Jacksonville associate director for medical services

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Men should make health a priority and take active daily steps to become healthier and stronger.

Cmdr James CallanTwelve percent of U.S. men (18 years and over) are in fair or poor health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

June is recognized as Men’s Health Month, a time to raise awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection.

Men should make health a priority and take active daily steps to become healthier and stronger.  There are many easy things that men, as well as women, can do to improve and maintain their overall health.  Let’s review a few to get you on track to a healthier life and lifestyle.

You have to get sufficient sleep. Too little sleep has been associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, obesity and depression.  Everyone’s sleep needs change with age.  In general, adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep a day.

Quit tobacco, it’s never too late.  About 30 percent of U.S. men smoke cigarettes. Quitting produces immediate and long-term benefits—lowers risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease and other illnesses.  And avoid second-hand smoke; it can cause problems similar to smokers.

Maintain an active lifestyle.  Men should partake in at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activities each week, muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week, and eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day—they are sources of the many vitamins and minerals that protect us from chronic diseases.  Choose healthy snacks and limit items high in calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol.

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Choose healthy snacks and limit items high in calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol.

And last, but certainly not least, manage your stress.  Sometimes stress can be good, however it can be harmful when severe enough to make you feel overwhelmed and out of control.  Physical or emotional tension is often signs of stress, and can best be managed through self-care and social support.  Avoid drug and alcohol, stay active and find support when needed.

Bottom line, we all need to step up our game.  See your primary care manager, or PCM, for regular checkups and identify what tests are needed and how often you need them; keep track and monitor personal numbers like blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and body mass index; and remember, proactively getting the right health services, screenings and treatments better our chances of living a longer, healthier life.

See your PCM, Medical Home Port team or Wellness Center/Health Promotions for more information on healthy lifestyles.