Although our main focus in June is Father’s Day, there’s another important issue that deserves our attention. This is also Men’s Health Month, a time to raise awareness about common health issues and encourage early discovery and treatment of diseases.
The sad reality is that too many of us are not giving enough attention to our health. One expert called this the “silent health crisis,” because American men live sicker and die younger than American women, yet too many men are hesitant to take their health seriously.
As it’s been said, perhaps the biggest concern with regard to men’s health is procrastination. Men are half as likely to visit a doctor for a check-up as women are, and there are over 7 million American men who haven’t seen a doctor in over 10 years. A recent survey discovered that about half of men ages 18 to 50 don’t have a primary-care physician, and a third haven’t had a checkup in more than a year. Another survey magazine found that about 40 percent of men in their 40s have never had their cholesterol tested, and 70 percent have never had a prostate exam. More statistics.
We hear all the time about how many serious health care issues can be addressed if they are discovered early — or they may never develop if we’re receiving good preventive care. So why is it so hard to get dads to the doctor? Common reasons include: fear of what they might find, denial of symptoms, embarrassment from the poking and prodding, or a false idea of masculinity that says we can “tough it out” on our own. Plus, when it comes to family medical expenses, our first priority is the health of our kids, right?
Since our kids are so important, let’s consider what they really want: They want their dad’s involvement, and they want him around as long as possible.
The very best reason to take our fitness seriously is to be able to keep up with and enjoy our children as they grow. There’s also the “legacy” factor at work here. If you’re young, it may be hard to imagine, but eventually your children will probably give you grandchildren. And someday, you may have great-grandchildren! In just a few years, thoughts of those future generations will be a major concern and driving force in your life.
So do what you can now to make sure you’re around a long time to influence and enjoy your kids and grandkids. Schedule a routine physical or health screening. Recommit yourself to exercising and watching your diet. You’ll find more information and tips here, but please address this, dad. Doing something sooner rather than later will give you as much time as possible to leave your legacy. Our children and future grandchildren are worth whatever changes or sacrifices you might need to make.
- Take up a sport or active hobby with your children — like volleyball, fencing or disc golf — or try a physical activity that your child enjoys but that might be a stretch for you: wall-climbing, skateboarding, paintball, surfing, etc.
- Replace a short car trip near your home with a family walk or bike ride to that location.
- Are you making some changes that will impact your health? Try to involve your whole family, so they can encourage you and hold you accountable. Change will be easier if your entire household joins you.
- Talk with your family about diet changes you could all make to positively affect your health. Seek each person’s input.
- Check your modeling when it comes to food and health habits. Do you indulge yourself in some ways that you wouldn’t allow your kids to indulge?