June is Men’s Health Month, a yearly observance which raises awareness for men’s health issues and encourages men and boys to implement healthy habits in their daily lives. There are many factors that make up proper hygiene and good health. Some of the basics include positive mindset, a balanced diet, a consistent workout schedule, and personal cleanliness. Often, society forms stereotypes about healthy people and unhealthy people solely by appearance. However, this simply is not the case. A lot of our overall health comes from within, from the parts of our body that are not always exposed to the world. This month, we discuss some of the best ways to achieve an overall healthy way of life.
Our mind is the #1 motivator (or de-motivator) of our day-to-day lives. Starting your day with positive affirmations will bring you much better peace of mind than waking up with a negative mindset. Every morning, remind yourself of a few things you are thankful for, a few things you are excited for and few things you plan to get done before crawling back into bed at night. This will help you create goals and stay on track while also reminding yourself of the things you are grateful for.
Each individual body requires a different diet to satisfy its daily needs. But it is important to remember, food is fuel. According to the academy of nutrition and dietetics, the average male should consume 2 cups of fruit, 2 ½ cups of vegetables, whole grains, fiber, fish or meat for protein, and fats every day to fulfill their dietary needs for a healthy and functioning body. Of course, this is just a guideline and will differ from person to person. Inevitably, eating foods outside of these guidelines is okay, but everything should be taken in moderation. As humans, we will always have a craving for that bag of chips or that slice of cake. Just make sure you eat your “unhealthy” meals in proportion to your healthy ones.
Although water is not considered food, it is still a key part of your diet. A good rule of thumb is to drink about half your body weight in fluid ounces every day at the minimum. Water has many health benefits, including weight loss, energy levels and brain function, and helps to maximize physical performance. But aside from the benefits, water is simply required for us to function. Our body is 60% water so in order to avoid severe dehydration, you must keep drinking your water!
Exercising daily is a crucial part to the overall health of men (both for your mental health and physical health). Harvard University recommends that every adult should aim to achieve 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio per week, which equals around 30 minutes a day for five days. Studies show that a healthy mix of weight training and cardio is the most efficient way to build muscle and keep your body strong, while also keeping your cardiovascular system healthy. Exercising also increases your endorphins and adrenaline, helping to boost your mood and mental health.
Hygiene and cleanliness are key factors in our overall health. A large component of overall health is oral hygiene. Do not forget to brush your teeth at least twice a day, making sure to floss either before or after brushing. Next, make sure to rinse off sweat as soon as you can after a workout! Some say that you do not need to shower every day in order to prevent stripping your skin of moisture. However, you should decide if showering daily is in your best interest, especially if you work out or sweat heavily daily. An important reminder is to be sure you are washing your hands frequently throughout the day, especially before consuming food or after using the bathroom.
“An important part of cleanliness and hygiene is skin care,” says Dr. Ritwik Grover of Whitehall, PA, “Our skin is the most visual component of our bodies and often can give telling signs of our overall health. Morning and nightly facial skin cleansing and moisturizing can have excellent benefits to skin integrity, helping to keep the barrier strong in the presence of bacteria and viruses. Sunscreen on a daily basis can also have a profound effect on limiting the number of skin cancers that can arise on our bodies. Sunscreen and wearing a hat on sunny days can also positively influence the smoothness of our skin given that sun exposure and smoking are often cited as the two greatest cause of premature skin wrinkling and deterioration.”
Naturally, as humans age, there are more things we need to be aware of. Fortunately, with all the current science, technology, and research available, many diseases are preventable, treatable and even curable with a timely and proper diagnosis. It is recommended that men over the age of 50 should have a physical exam annually, while men under the age of 50 should have a physical every three years.
There are a number of specific health tests and screenings that are recommended for men depending on their age, medical history and family history. This may include screenings for high cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as cancer screenings. Men are at risk for several types of cancer, including prostate and colon. Your physician will help determine when you should begin screenings in order to identify any potential cancers as early as possible and optimize treatment outcomes.
Doctors’ appointments and physical exams are important to ensure we are the heathiest version of ourselves while also catching any potential health concerns as early as possible.