Due to expectations in our society that men should always be capable and strong, many men often neglect both their physical and mental health in an attempt to seem well. However, untreated health concerns can become more serious and even life threatening. BLAC spoke with Dr. Michael Williams from St. John Health in Southfield, MI, to learn how men can start to pay closer attention to their minds and bodies and secure a healthful future for themselves.
BLAC: How often should men go to the doctor for check-ups depending on age?
Dr. Williams: Men ages 22-64 should see the physician at least once every 3 years. Men 65 or older should see their physician once a year. If you smoke, have high blood pressure, heart disease or other risks for declining health your doctor may suggest you be seen more often.
BLAC: When going to the doctor as an older man (40+), what should you ask your physician to make sure that you are in good health?
Dr. Williams: “After your doctor has specifically made known to you what your major medical problems are, make sure that there is evidence you are progressing well by adhering to his recommendations in order for you to minimize poor outcomes.”
BLAC: Why is it important for men to take care of their mental as well as their physical health?
Dr. Williams: “Mental and physical health are intertwined. For instance a mental health problem heightens your risk of aggravating or developing heart disease. In addition, mental health problems tend to make it less likely that you are to adhere to a doctor’s recommendations and be compliant with follow-up appointments. The onset of multiple medical problems particularly in mid life can bring on not only discouragement, but degrees of depression.”
BLAC: What are some ways that men can begin to practice better mental health habits?
Dr. Williams: “Begin involving yourself in the lives of others in ways that make their lives better. Have hobbies outside of work particularly if possible in areas where you have natural talent. Minimize screen time once you are home for the day to pave the way for activities that allow you to unwind before bedtime. Show gratitude to others for acts of kindness they have shown you, even if they are ever so small. Reflect more on what is going well in your life, and avoid worrying about tomorrow’s unknowns.”
BLAC: What are three actions that men can incorporate into their daily lives to help them improve their health?
“The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association both recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. Examples of this would be:
A. Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes
B. Biking 5 miles in 30 minutes
C. Running 1-1/2 miles in 15 minutes
D. Swimming laps for 20 minutes
E. Playing volleyball for 45 minutes
F. Playing basketball for 15 minuteS
G. Jumping rope for 15 minutes
E. Walking stairs for 15 minutes
In addition to the above, one should incorporate balance or agility exercises with stretching or flexibility, along with strength training at least 2 days weekly.”
“Adopt the MIND diet. This is a combined dietary approach consisting of not only the Mediterranean diet but also the Dash diet which is the dietary approach to stopping hypertension. This diet not only preserves one’s cognitive function but also reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Foods to include in his diet would be beans, berries, fish, leafy greens, nuts, olive oil, other vegetables, poultry, whole grains and the equivalent of one 5 ounce glass of wine per day. If however you are not already drinking alcohol you can avoid beginning drinking alcohol. Foods to include very much less would be butter and stick margarine, cheese, fast food and fried food, pastries and sweets and less red meat.”
“Begin getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily which provides for better memory, capacity to concentrate and better control of one’s weight and blood pressure.”