Employee Education: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on Men’s Health

Since National Men’s Health was last month, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to bring awareness of what men can do to boost their chances of  having better health and living a longer life. We have included important information for yourself and/or the men in your life.  

Did you know that back in the 1920s, men lived only one year less than women? Unfortunately nearly a century later, men’s overall health has declined instead of improved.

According to a 2011 report from the Center for Disease Control, on average, an American man will become sicker and die five years earlier than an average American woman. Moreover, in a typical year, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that men are 25 percent less likely to have visited a health care provider and nearly 40 percent more likely to have skipped recommended cholesterol screenings. 

To help men get healthier, we’ve compiled a list of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. This list encourages men to adopt Good habits, drop the Bad ones and avoid getting an Ugly disease by participating in annual health screenings as advised.


The Good
Get enough sleep. More and more studies show that getting enough sleep clearly helps you live a healthier life. Lack of sleep has been known to cause obesity, depression, diabetes and cardiovascular disease as well as cause accidents related to operating a car or work-related machine. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should wind down and spend the last half hour before bed doing something calm and restful. They recommend for those who have trouble sleeping to avoid electronics before bed or in the middle of the night.  In our next issue, we will focus specifically on the importance of getting enough sleep and its impact on work performance.

Be active. According to a 2014 post on www.activetimes.com, sitting is considered the new smoking. Why? Because a large portion of working men spend most of their day sitting – commuting, working at a desk, sitting in meetings, going to the movies and watching TV – and are not getting enough overall exercise. Lack of regular exercise can cause similar problems found in lack of sleep. Try fitting in some exercise (both cardio and weight lifting) either before or after work, taking walks on your work breaks and walking around an airport terminal or near your hotel when traveling. Use the weekends to get some fun cardio in like hiking, tennis, swimming, etc. 

Eat more of the good stuff. Cut back on the processed and fast foods and replace with more “real” foods such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, lean proteins and beans. If you are having issues with bloating and constipation, consider eliminating wheat and bread-type foods for a week and see if you feel better. Also reduce high-sodium foods from your diet, which can contribute to high blood pressure.  


The Bad
Ditch the cigarettes. We know you have heard it before, but if you are still smoking in 2015, it’s time to stop. We all know it is a strong addiction and not an easy habit to break but there are resources available to help. Check with your HR Department to see what employee resources are available to help you quit smoking or go to www.smokefree.gov for additional resources. 

Dial down the stress. Studies indicate that stress is a killer even more than heart disease and cancer. Men need to find ways to keep their stress at bay and the above suggestions are a good start. Other stress reducers include yoga, spending time with loved ones, participating in hobbies and meditating. Minimize less effective stress reducers such as alcohol, online shopping or watching television. Check out our earlier post on tips to reduce stress


The Ugly
Here is a list of screenings men should do to prevent or catch ugly diseases while they are easier to treat:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure). If you have high blood pressure, get tested once a year. If you have normal blood pressure, once every two years.
  • Prostate cancer screening. If you are at average-risk, you should get tested starting at age 50. If you are at high risk including being African American, you should start at age 45. If you have a strong family history of prostate cancer, you should start at 40.
  • High cholesterol. You should start at age 35 and ask your nurse or doctor how often after that.
  • Colon cancer screening. You should get your first screening at age 50 and ask your doctor or nurse how often after that.
  • Type 2 Diabetes. If you are healthy, you should have the test every three years starting at age 45. If you are at a higher risk, you should start screenings earlier and more frequently.
  • Glaucoma screening. Men under 40 should be tested every 2-4 years; men 40-54 every 1-3 years, and those 55-64 every 1-2 years.

Check out the full list of recommended screenings for men by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.