Father’s Day is just around the corner and is a time to celebrate the contributions and influence of fathers in our lives. It is also a time to highlight the importance of men’s health.
Men have an average life expectancy 4.5 years shorter than women and for mainly preventable causes. Let’s delve into various aspects of men’s health, to help promote a healthier and more fulfilling life for fathers and all men alike.
Medical Check ups
When it comes to seeking medical care, studies have shown that men tend to be less proactive than women. The awareness of the importance of men’s health has been growing, with increased efforts to encourage men to prioritise their wellbeing. Routine medical check–ups and regular visits to healthcare professionals can aid in early detection and prevention of health issues. Regular screening for conditions such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart health, diabetes, prostate cancer, skin cancer and mental health conditions are especially significant for men. There may be other conditions that run in the family that need to be screened for also. Discussing any concerns or symptoms with a health professional ensures prompt attention and appropriate management.
Taking care of one’s physical health is vital for overall wellbeing. Regular exercise plays a pivotal role in maintaining optimal health. Engaging in activities such as cardiovascular exercise and strength training, can improve heart health, and build muscle and bone strength. Exercising as a little as 10 minutes a day up to the recommended 30 – 45minutes a day, 5 days a week can help reduce your risk of heart disease and other medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, some cancers and depression. Do whatever activity you enjoy – as long as it means moving more!
A well–balanced diet is just as important as exercise but there is so much information out there regarding healthy eating and celebrity diets it is hard to know where to start. Men should aim to incorporate nutrient–dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats into their diets. Limiting the consumption of processed foods, sugary drinks, alcohol, and excessive salt can help prevent chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. The size of our meals has grown over time and portion size is another important factor. The heart foundation recommends a ‘healthy eating plate’ is made up of ½ vegetables, ¼ carbohydrate (wholegrains) and ¼ protein.
Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
Men’s mental and emotional health are often overlooked or stigmatised. Fatherhood, with its myriad responsibilities and pressures, can sometimes take a toll on mental health. Recognizing the signs of stress, anxiety, or depression is crucial in seeking support and practicing self–care. Men take their own lives at 4 times the rate of women, with an average of 5 men a day dying from suicide in Australia.
Building and maintaining strong social connections is vital for mental wellbeing. Engaging in activities with family and friends, participating in hobbies or support groups, and seeking professional counselling when needed can contribute to better mental health outcomes. Effective stress management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation. Spending time with mates regularly and checking in with them is important. The key message it – it’s ok to seek help.
Prevention is the key to maintaining long–term health and we touched earlier on the importance of regular health checks. One of the best things you can do for your health is to avoid tobacco use and limit alcohol consumption, as they increase the risk of various health issues, including lung cancer, heart disease, and liver damage.
Protecting the skin from excessive sun exposure by wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and hats can significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer.
It is well known that women should conduct regular breast checks for early detection of breast cancer. It is equally important for men to check for testicular cancer. Although not as common as breast cancer it is the number 1 cancer amongst younger men, so it is recommended that men ‘check your nuts’ every month or so to get to know what is normal for you.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in Australia. If you are aged over 50, it is recommended you talk to your doctor about PSA (prostate specific antigen) testing and if testing is right for you. It is recommended if you are aged over 45 and of African or Caribbean descent or have a family history of prostate cancer to have a chat with your doctor about PSA testing.
Let’s not forget about the significance of sexual health. Following safe sex practices and regular screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is recommended. Open communication with partners about sexual health is important and if you are experiencing any issues with erectile dysfunction have a chat to your trusted health professional.
On this Father’s Day, let us not only celebrate the remarkable men in our lives but also encourage them to prioritize their health and wellbeing. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits, seeking regular medical check–ups, and addressing mental and emotional wellbeing, men can enhance their quality of life and be the best fathers and role models they can be.
Happy Father’s Day!
Head to Health www.headtohealth.gov.au/
Mensline Australia (online counselling and forum for men) 1300789978 or https://mensline.org.au/
Dads in Distress (peer support for separated Dads) 1300 853437 or https://parentsbeyondbreakup.com/dids/
Heart Foundation – https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/
Dr Georgia Page enjoys all aspects of general practice and has been working at Your Family Doctors at Erina for the last 12 years. The practice has a fabulous team and they pride themselves on delivering good quality health care, with that special personal touch. For more information call 4365 4999, check the website www.yourfamilydoctors.com.au or like them on Facebook.