Three Generation Men

Real Talk About Men’s Health

By Gustave Mellgren, M.D., Family Medicine

Doctor: “Why are you here today?”
Man: “My wife made me.”

While that joke is a good tension reliever in the doctor’s office, it is often true.

A survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians found that 78% of men pursue health care mainly when encouraged by their partner, and almost 1/3 of men surveyed say they wait “as long as possible” for health care treatment when ill. And while nearly half of all the men surveyed had a major health condition, 79% considered themselves healthy.

There are many theories about why men are more easygoing in some aspects of their lives, but when it comes to health, it can be dangerous.

When health problems go undiscovered or untreated, men’s risks of an interrupted lifestyle or early death from potentially preventable conditions or diseases increase substantially.

Have you heard this before? Eat healthier and exercise.

If you need help determining a healthy diet, your doctor can recommend dietary guidelines for your activity level and lifestyle. Check out our blog on nutrition for several helpful ideas on eating healthier.

Turn off the TV! The average amount of TV watched by males is 19 hours per week (four hours of that are sports). For most of us, following a healthier lifestyle requires a commitment to make changes. While it can be hard, if you don’t find ways to change now, a few years down the road may be too late.

Exercise can easily be something you already enjoy:

  • Walking/hiking/running
  • Bicycling
  • Kayaking/canoeing
  • Golfing
  • Fishing
  • Tennis
  • Bowling
  • Pick-up basketball
  • Softball/baseball
  • Flag football

Get in and get checked out.

Preventing a heart attack means identifying risks now. Get your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other tests checked before you become so sick with symptoms that a doctor’s visit can no longer be avoided. Being current on your immunizations will also help keep you healthy.

Get screened for colon cancer if you’re over 50. Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and it is preventable! If one reason men don’t pursue preventive care is that they don’t want to find anything, this is one situation where they might be wrong. The purpose of a screening colonoscopy is not to find cancer, but to find polyps before they turn into cancer and remove them! Colonoscopy is one of the few tests we do that can prevent cancer.

As men, we can sometimes be the biggest obstacle to achieving our own good health. So, if you are a man reading this—make a doctor’s appointment and get checked out. If you are a man’s partner reading this, keep encouraging him—whether we admit it or not, we need you to help keep us healthy!