By Dr. Amit Arwindekar, Medical Director, UnitedHealthcare Global
Summer is a great time to focus on fitness, especially for men. While for some men their health may be a secondary concern, the summer months offer an opportune time to help raise awareness of the health challenges men face and encourage them to take action to improve their well-being.
For instance, compared to women, men may experience some health conditions at higher rates, including heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. By highlighting this fact and encouraging men to take an active role in their well-being, it may be possible to help address these health issues earlier and avoid complications that may diminish quality of life.
Here are three tips men can consider that may help improve their well-being this summer and throughout the year.
Stay active and enjoy the summer weather. Getting active may be a great way to prioritize your physical health and mental well-being, and you may have fun while doing it. Federal guidelines recommend men ages 18 to 64 get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity or a combination of both per week, along with strength training. For men 65 and over, it’s good to add in balance activities that may help reduce the risk of falls. To help make physical activity as fun as possible this summer, consider golfing, kayaking, tennis, swimming or hiking to get moving and spend time with family and friends. Along with the physical benefits, an active lifestyle may have positive impacts on your mental well-being too.
Know when to take it easy. Taking time to destress may be a beneficial part of any healthy lifestyle, whether it’s a backyard barbecue, a staycation or working on a hobby. Taking time to rest and recover may support physical and mental well-being. Importantly, research shows that men may be less likely to get care for mental health concerns, so it’s important to look for signs that you or someone you love may need support. Potential indicators of depression may include irritable or angry moods, unexplained aches and pains, self-criticism and bad or dangerous behavior. Additionally, some men may be more inclined to push themselves during physical activities. Whether you’re engaging in a friendly pickleball match or training for an upcoming endurance race, like a 10K, listen to your body and take it slow if you need to.
Don’t forget about preventive care. In a recent survey, 50% of men said annual wellness visits are part of their regular care routine. In fact, men across all ages may be less likely to engage with a primary care physician compared to women, with this gap most pronounced among men in their 20s and 30s. Preventive care is an important addition to any wellness routine, even if you feel healthy, and may help detect potential health issues earlier. Men should be on the lookout for a variety of health issues that tend to increase in frequency as they age, including kidney stones, gout and certain cancers. If getting to the doctor is a challenge due to a packed schedule or other issues, consider a virtual visit, which may be a good option for both primary and urgent care. Virtual visits can help manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes as well as common acute issues such as fever or rash, making it possible to get medical support from the comfort of home or on the go.
As we celebrate summer and the important role men play in our families and our communities, considering these tips may be a good way for men of all ages to make health a priority this year.