It’s November and that means you may be seeing your male friends, colleagues or complete strangers growing beards or mustaches. This fuss over the fuzz is part of Movember, a campaign to promote awareness of serious issues related to men’s health, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide prevention. If you’re a man who prefers to remain clean shaven, here are some moves you should make to get—and stay—healthy.
- See Your Doctor: Even when they’re sick, 70 percent of men report putting off a visit to the doctor. If it’s been awhile since your last physical, now’s the time to touch base with your doctor, who can help determine how often they should see you based on your risk factors for disease. Exams might include baseline measurements for blood pressure, diabetes and body mass index. Your healthcare provider will also help you decide whether and when you need to be screened for prostate, colorectal or lung cancer, and what adult vaccinations you need to stay up to date.
- Stand Up: Americans spend between 8 and 13 hours a day sitting. And all that sitting is bad for your health. Studies have linked sedentary behavior with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, including colorectal and lung cancer. If you have a desk job, break up stretches of sitting with standing. Move around to get your limbs moving and blood flowing for improved cardiovascular health. Go for a walk during your lunch break. The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report found a 30 minute brisk walk, six days a week, substantially counters the increased health risks of prolonged sitting. The more exercise you can do—and the higher the intensity you can do it at—the better. A study of more than one million adults found those who get 60 to 75 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily eliminate their risk of early death caused by sitting too much.
- Check Yourself: Testicular cancer is the leading cancer among men age 15 to 44, according to the American Cancer Society. Men who catch this cancer while it’s still in their testicles—a lump or swelling is a telltale sign—have a 99 percent survival rate. While uncommon, each year testicular cancer kills 400 men, and the American Cancer Society reports that the incidence rate has been increasing in the U.S. for several decades. Checking your testicles could make a big difference. By the time you feel pain in your groin, abdomen or lower back (all signs that the cancer has spread), testicular cancer is harder to beat. Movember’s Know Thy Nuts provides a step-by-step guide to performing monthly self-exams.
- Focus on Mental Health: Men die by suicide at nearly four times the rate of women, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Male Veterans are also 1.3 times more likely than male non-Veterans to die by suicide, shows data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. If you’re in suicidal crisis or dealing with emotional distress, reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline operates 24/7 through telephone counseling at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or via text through Lifeline Chat. Undiagnosed depression can have ripple effects on your life. Compared to depressed women, depressed men are more likely to report sleep disturbances and feeling more tired. For men, mental health issues can show up as physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, constant headaches or digestive issues, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. If you’re struggling with emotional issues, your doctor can offer treatment options to help manage your depression.
This Movember, recommit to your health. Whether you decide to embrace your inner lumberjack is up to you.