With our busy lives, it can be easy to let things slip — even something as important as our health.
And according to Dr. Luke Pratsides, Numan GP (numan.com), “Men are notoriously bad at looking after their health.”
For Pratsides, there are a few reasons for this. One is knowledge, where the GP says: “Men generally have less knowledge of specific diseases and risk factors than women. This lack of knowledge prevents men from seeking help unless symptoms cause significant pain or immobility.”
Women are often invited for more regular checkups throughout their lives, including cervical cancer screening and prenatal care. “Men, on the other hand, do not have gender-specific screenings and should never contact health care until they are asked to provide a stool sample in their 50s for the colon cancer screening programme.”
The next is perception. “In Europe, men are at greater risk for all major causes of death and more likely to engage in unhealthy behavior than women. Despite this, men see themselves as less at risk for health problems and report better subjective health than women,’ Pratsides suggests. “This can be linked to health literacy, behavioral patterns and gender roles.”
Society’s attitude towards masculinity could also play a role. “Typical socialization of men includes independence, fearlessness, harshness, and avoidance of emotional expression,” Pratsides says — and this could discourage men from going to the doctor if something isn’t right.
If you are concerned about your health, talk to your doctor or call 111 (999 if the problem is urgent). But if you want to improve your overall health from day to day, you may want to take these simple steps…
1. Take a blood test
“Many health problems are invisible and can only be detected with a blood test,” Pratsides said. “Blood tests can measure your liver function, thyroid function, cholesterol levels and hormones.
“A blood test can help you understand your risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, and enable you to spot underlying health conditions early, when they’re easier to treat.”
2. Eat a nutritious diet
“Nutrient deficiencies can lead to a variety of health problems, including hair loss and slow-healing wounds.
“Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals will promote good bone health, boost immunity, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and improve heart health.”
If you’re able to get your body moving, it’s really a no-brainer. “Physical activity is crucial and improves various aspects of health. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and several cancers,” says Pratsides.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore – try new things or play different sports to find something that makes you feel really motivated and excited to get involved.
4. Reduce your alcohol consumption
“Excessive alcohol consumption puts you at risk of cancer, high blood pressure, liver and heart disease. It also increases depression and anxiety,” adds Pratsides.
“Reducing your alcohol consumption will improve your long-term health, improve your sleep quality and give you more energy.”
5. Spend More Time Outside
Especially as the weather warms, this becomes more and more fun to do — and Pratsides says there are “several health benefits of spending time outdoors.”
Going outside may help reduce stress, he suggests. “Poor mental health is a major concern for men. Being outside – especially exercising outside – is one of the easiest ways to boost your mood.”
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