July 13 – Healthy As An Ox

Today’s factismal: National Men’s Health Week starts today. Go find a man and help him get healthy!

Odds are, you know a man. And if you know a man, odds are that you know a man who is reluctant to talk about his health. And that’s a darn shame because men aren’t nearly as healthy as we should be. Want proof of that? Just take a look at the list of things that kill men:

Cause of Death In Men Percent Of Deaths Number of Deaths
1) Heart disease 24.6 321,284
2) Cancer 23.5 306,918
3) Unintentional injuries 6.3 82,280
4) Chronic lower respiratory diseases 5.4 70,526
5) Stroke 4.1 53,547
6) Diabetes 3.1 40,487
7) Suicide 2.5 32,651
8) Influenza and pneumonia 2.1 27,427
9) Alzheimer’s disease 2.0 26,121
10) Chronic liver disease 1.8 23,509

Just look at those numbers and try not to freak. Cancer and heart disease in men account for nearly half of all our deaths. And men are much worse at taking care of ourselves than women (ask any woman whose had to nurse “man flu”). Men are 1.6 times more likely to die of a heart attack than women, and 1.4 times more likely to die of cancer. And we’re twice as likely to die in an accident (doctor’s call this the “hold my beer” effect). Let’s face it, guys – when it comes to taking care of ourselves, we suck.

Death rates are improving overall but men still lag (Image courtesy CDC)

Death rates are improving overall but men still lag
(Image courtesy CDC)

So what can we do about it? Three simple things. (We can all count to three, right?) If we do these three things, our death rates will come down and our families will be happier (and our sex lives will improve). What are they?

  1. Go to the damn doctor! You have no excuse not to go to the doctor once a year for a check-up. Yes, I mean you. You’d never forget to change your car’s oil when it was time, so why won’t you do this simple preventative maintenance on your own engine? I go every year on my birthday and the doctor is very happy with me as a consequence. And those tests that you don’t want done? Good news – most doctors only do them now if you have a family history of prostate cancer (and sometimes not even then).
  2. Get some damn exercise! No, jumping to conclusions doesn’t count. Instead, walk around the block every night. Make it a special time with your spouse or your kids – or even an excuse to sneak in a few moments of “me” time. Just fifteen minutes of walking every day can give you four extra years with that family you love. If walking isn’t your thing, start riding your bike or swimming or working in the garden. Do whatever exercise it is that you love so that the ones you love can love you back for a longer time.
  3. Eat some damn vegetables and fruit! And no, french fries and ketchup don’t count. Eat a salad once a week. Try adding a piece of fruit (an apple or banana or a handful of cherries) to your meal. Even better, eat them first! When you eat the vegetables and fruit first, you have less room for the greasy, unhealthy stuff that follows. As a result, you’ll eat less and lose weight, making you sexier and better looking. (Unfortunately, this has no effect on baldness. Darn.)

If you do those three things, your chances of dying from cancer or heart disease plummet like a choking player in the finals. As a result, you’ll have more time to spend with your family and friends – and you’ll get to be obnoxiously smug about how much better your health is. If you’d like to learn about even more things that you can do to help your health, then head over to the website for National Men’s Health Week:

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