June is Men’s Health Month, and Mercy Health would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to care for yourself, and your loved ones, by reminding you, or the men in your life, of the importance of taking the necessary steps to jump start positive lifestyle changes that will improve all aspects of well-being — body, mind and spirit.
Trying to “do it all” and “have it all” along with the hyper-competitive methods some use to achieve those goals can leave many of us burned out physically, mentally and spiritually. So look upon self-care and well-being habits as investments in yourself — investments with a high rate of return in the form of a happier, healthier more productive you.
Lifestyle modification can consist of a variety of strategies, such as healthier eating, exercise and physical activity, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress and spiritual fulfillment. However, it’s important to remember that no two men are the same and you should tailor whatever strategies you use to your own life and goals.
Ensuring that you get enough physical activity will go a long way toward improving your overall quality of life. Although the benefits of physical activity far outweigh the possibility of adverse outcomes, you should still start gradually and perform the types of physical activity appropriate for your current fitness level. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends the following activities for adults:
- Move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none.
- Perform at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, spread aerobic activity throughout the week.
- Perform muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
Additionally, do activities that you enjoy, be it weightlifting, walking, yoga, swimming and biking because almost any exercise is helpful.
Men’s busy schedules can sometimes make it difficult to eat correctly. Proper nutrition is a key component of any strategy to live healthier. Keep these guidelines in mind when planning your meals:
- Eat three meals a day. Meals should consist primarily of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.
- Control portion sizes. Take time to enjoy smaller amounts of food.
- Limit foods high in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and added sugar.
- If you drink alcohol, drink it in moderation.
- Stay hydrated by drinking enough water.
While it’s important to know the physical aspects of disease prevention, knowing how to maintain a healthier spirit is important as well. Keep these things in mind:
- Remain optimistic. Research shows that happiness and a positive attitude are associated with lower rates of disease. Focus on your thoughts. Stop negative ones and replace them with positive ones.
- Control stress. Stress relievers like deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises, and keeping a journal, can be helpful in controlling the impact stress has on your body.
- Do everything in moderation. Don’t try to do too much at one time. Make sure to have time for proper nutrition, sleep, work and play.
- Create a network. Maintaining a close circle of family and friends can provide you with support when you need it.
Lastly, getting annual screening tests from your primary care physician (PCP) is vital to sustaining your health and helping prevent or control health conditions. Having a PCP who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. If you don’t have a PCP, just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.
Mercy Health is committed to providing resources that promote well-being though body, mind and spirit, and is dedicated to helping you live a healthy life.