As I celebrated Father’s Day, I reflected on the past year in which I have welcomed a second daughter into my family in the midst of a global COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the last year many of us have delayed routine medical care typically received during a year, which has been anything but typical. International Men’s Health week coincided with Father’s Day and this year was June 14-20.
I would like to take this opportunity to bring attention to ways we can improve the state of men’s health. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected men globally and in general men tend to delay routine preventative health maintenance. On average men tend to pay less attention to their mental and physical health and engage in more risky behaviors such as alcohol and tobacco use and avoiding routine checkups with their doctors.
Dr. Andrew Bader. Submitted photo
Men’s Health week allows us a forum to promote “Men’s health and wellbeing” in a way that focuses on developing healthy lifestyle habits and discusses routine medical care needs. Men are affected by diseases common to everyone in the U.S. such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression, but also have unique risks such as prostate or testicular concerns. Many of the diseases that affect us can be reduced by a healthy lifestyle which combines regular exercise, a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, practice of stress reduction, not smoking, and avoiding excess alcohol consumption (no more than two drinks per day).
Regular checkups with your primary care doctor combined with age-appropriate screening tests can help to identify any concerning diseases or habits early and allow you to take steps to improve your health. An annual checkup with your primary care doctor should provide evidence-based guidance towards the promotion of better health. Screening tests to look for diabetes, checking blood pressure to maintain optimal control, checking your cholesterol, discussing appropriate cancer screening, receiving appropriate vaccinations, and discussing emotional health are all essential. An important part of overall health is maintaining an appropriate weight. Being physically active and following a healthy diet are key steps to avoid becoming overweight or obese which increase your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Taking steps now to maintain good health can allow us all to be present for many more father’s days to come.
Bader is a board-certified family physician practicing with Essentia Health in the Brainerd lakes area.
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