Did you know that June is Men’s Health Month?
This year so far has been, in no uncertain terms, the beginning of a very different decade. As with any new start, a new decade comes with the opportunity to look forward to the future and reminisce on the past. As we consider all that has changed, we can evaluate how we’ve been dealing with our health—spiritually, mentally, and physically. To my fellow men, we especially should take a moment to step back and evaluate our health and well-being during these unique times.
Generally speaking, men aren’t as predisposed to seeking health-related advice or assistance as women are. Studies show that males are half as likely to visit the doctor for a check-up as their female counterparts, and there are more than 7 million American men who haven’t seen a doctor in more than 10 years. In fact, a recent study found that 82% of men report trying to stay healthy and live longer for those who rely on them, yet only 50% engaged in some type of preventive care.
Now more than ever, it’s time for that to change. Whether you’re 19 or 99, you should take time to focus on your mental and physical well-being. Here at the Y, we focus on growing stronger in spirit, mind, and body. Even if you feel like you’re at a good place in your wellness journey, part of taking charge of your well-being is making routine appointments with your healthcare providers.
Let me tell you about my experience with letting my well-being fall by the wayside. Only a few years ago, I didn’t like going to the doctor and thought I was invincible. I was in good shape, I ate well, I exercised, and I wasn’t overweight. And I felt great, so I didn’t regularly seek medical attention.
At 50 years old, I felt I was in the best shape of my life. At the urging of my wife, I finally gave in and went for an annual physical. Since I hadn’t been to the doctor in a while, they did a full workup, including an electrocardiogram, which is a simple test that measures the electrical activity in your heart.
The doctor told me everything looked normal, with one exception. He sent me immediately for a stress test. Again, everything seemed to look good except one little hiccup. I was sent to the hospital to have a heart catheter procedure done to determine what was wrong. During that procedure, the doctor found 3 blockages in my arteries: one was at 96%, one was at 90%, and the other was at 89%.
The next morning, I was on the operating table having a seven-hour triple heart bypass surgery to fix the blockages. Three and a half years later, I feel amazing. I go for regular checkups with my primary care physician and cardiologists to make sure everything is in good working order. I still exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. The truth is, if I hadn’t gone to the doctor that day, I most likely wouldn’t be here today.
As you can see, no matter how well or strong you feel, it’s still incredibly important to engage with your physicians on a regular basis. Consistent check-ups and appointments are part of taking responsibility for your health, well-being, and being there for your family.
So, as we all head further into the new decade, please take care of yourself with a renewed responsibility for your health. Once you decide to dedicate more time and focus on your health, you can truly improve your life one step at a time. This June, I invite you to take charge of your well-being.
Maybe you can start exercising one extra day during the week, or switch out a guilty pleasure for a healthy snack, or make that doctor’s appointment you’ve been dreading. No matter what healthy living looks like to you, don’t forget to enjoy the benefits of feeling better with your family.
Happy Men’s Health Month!
By: Chef Gary Appelsies, MS
Director of Healthy Eating
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