When it comes to the health of the men in your life, you might play a bigger role than you think.
Recent studies suggest that when men have health issues, they often turn to loved ones before seeing a doctor:
- Men go to the doctor less frequently than women do. Only 62% of men say they’ve had contact with a doctor or other health care professional in the last 6 months, compared to 74% of women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1 The CDC also reported that women and girls ages 15 and older had more than twice as many preventive care visits as men and boys.2
- When health issues arise, men often go to their significant others. And more men do so than women: 32% of men and 25% of women look to their partner for help first, rather than a doctor or anyone else.3
- And young men and women alike look to Mom and Dad for health advice. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, 36% say they call a parent first when they have a health issue, compared to 25% who call a doctor first.4
So when the men in your life turn to you for guidance, here are some quick, stay-healthy tips to keep in mind, courtesy of Sean Hashmi, MD, an internal medicine physician for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California:
- Stay on top of stress: "Stress is such a huge contributor for every other problem," states Dr. Hashmi, "from a weakened immune system to heart attacks to diabetes. The challenge in helping men cope is doing so in a way that doesn’t put them on the spot." He explains, "If you tell a guy, ‘You’re really stressed,’ he may shut down. Sometimes it’s better to sideline that and find ways to help guys alleviate their stress without them knowing that that’s exactly what you’re trying to do."
- Know when to schedule a checkup: Hashmi suggests that healthy men under age 30 see their primary care doctors every 2 to 3 years. Men ages 30 to 40 should go every other year. And he strongly recommends men over age 50 go every year. Men at risk for conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease should go more often, even if they’re not experiencing symptoms. "If you’re questioning whether you should go and see your doctor or not," says Dr. Hashmi, "the answer is simple: If the question comes up, the answer is always yes."
- Get a good night’s sleep: "Sleep is such an important part of our overall health," Dr. Hashmi points out. "Good sleep hygiene means you have a rhythm in your body where your body wants to have higher energy at certain periods and then start to cool down. If you keep confusing it, it doesn’t know what it has to do, and in turn, you start carrying more weight around your belly. So, one of the quickest and easiest things you can do is start getting to bed at a regular hour, and get used to waking up at a regular hour."
- Partner up on your fitness: "Anytime you do an activity with somebody, you are more likely to stick to it," Dr. Hashmi advises. "Figure out what both people like to do. Maybe you and your partner like to go to the beach. Well, how wonderful would it be if you guys rented bikes on the beach and went biking?"