Celebrating Men’s Health Month This June
Across the nation, June is celebrated as Men’s Health Month and is an opportunity to promote health and wellness for men across the country. Men’s Health Month was first declared by the Men’s Health Network in 1992, to raise awareness of preventable health problems in men, and to encourage early detection and treatment of disease in both boys and men. In North Dakota, men have a shorter life expectancy than women by nearly eight years and are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, late-stage cancers, substance use disorder and more. Men’s Health Month provides the opportunity for men and their families, as well as health care providers, to focus on men’s health and encourage an active role in healthy living and disease prevention.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health promotes Five Plays for Men’s Health to highlight actions men can take to stay at the top of their health game:
1. We will protect this heart:
Heart disease is the number one killer of men, both in North Dakota and nationwide. Healthier food choices build a healthier heart – make fruits and vegetables half of your plate for each meal. NDSU Extension’s Food and Nutrition program develops healthy and delicious recipes for you to try. Check them out here!
2. Bro, you don’t even have to lift:
Getting just 30 minutes of exercise each day can help you live a longer and healthier life. Reaching that 30-minute goal could be as simple as two 15-minute walk breaks during the workday to get your heart pumping and your blood flowing. Walk breaks have also been proven to improve productivity, so you reap the benefits two times over!
3. Preventative maintenance:
Getting regular check-ups can catch small problems before they become big problems. Different screenings are recommended at varying intervals for men depending on age. This checkup and screening guideline chart can help you determine what screenings you might be due for depending on your age. Then, use this month as an opportunity to make an appointment with your health care provider.
4. Quitting time:
Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke and poses a risk of erectile dysfunction. The North Dakota Department of Health supports a free web-based program called NDQuits that offers assistance to North Dakotans trying to quit smoking or smokeless tobacco products. They provide confidential counseling, help you design your quit plan, supply two months’ worth of nicotine patches, gym or lozenges to eligible participants, and more.
5. Hey man, you good?
Life can get tough. Thinking things through with a mental health professional can help you navigate some of the many challenges that life throws our way. FirstLink has a directory of community resources that may help address some of those life challenges, one of which is mental health services that can help you locate a mental health professional in North Dakota.
These are just a few suggestions of the numerous ways that men can act now to integrate healthier habits into their routine to ensure a healthy future self! It is important to acknowledge that these ‘plays’ and other health promotion activities are most effective when integrated as lifelong actions, instead of one-time events limited to men’s health month.
Here in North Dakota, we are using this Men’s Health Month as an opportunity to highlight some of the health disparities that men in our state face while also drawing attention to some of the programs and resources available to North Dakotans to help address these disparities. To learn about some of the key data points and resources available, check out our Facebook page!