Can A Mustache Save A Life?

Yes, in “Mo-vember” it can!  Throughout November, there is a national campaign encouraging men to grow facial hair as part of a men’s health awareness.  So, it isn’t actually the mustaches themselves improving health and saving lives, it’s the attention to early detection and timely treatment, but it does make for a catchy headline!  Here are some easy things men can do to enjoy more energy, avoid illness, and reduce out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

Have a check-up with your primary care provider.  How many years has it been since your last “annual” physical?  If it has been more than one, it is time.  Your doctor or advanced practice provider will help you better understand your health and which improvement steps would be best for you.   He or she will recommend what preventive health screenings are most important for you.  He or she can help identify trends developing before they become overly concerning.  Make an appointment now.  If you need help finding a primary care provider, call Janet in NMC’s Community Relations Office at 524-1280.

Follow the recommendations regarding preventive screenings.  Colon cancer often goes undetected until it has become much more dangerous.  We see that here in our own community.  If you are age 50 or older, you should be screened.  Self-exams for testicular cancer, blood pressure and cholesterol checks, and depression and prostate screenings are also important steps towards early detection.  Talk to your provider about what testing is right for you.

Move more.  Staying physically active is one of the best things you can do for your health.  The choices are endless.  Look for opportunities to park a bit farther away and walk.  From there, taking a brisk 15-minute walk every day with the dog, a friend, the kids, or your significant other is a great step forward.  Maybe you head into the woods and turn that into a hike.  Pull a bike out of the garage and go for a quick ride.  Is it too early to talk about the snowshoes now available for loan at local libraries, thanks to RiseVT?  Or shoveling instead of snow blowing?  Physical activity boosts your spirits, strengthens your muscles, improves your heart health, and helps ward off many diseases.  To learn about local options, check out www.RiseVT.com

Eat a bit healthier.  What we eat has as much impact on how our bodies function as what we put in the fuel tank and oil pan has on how our cars and trucks run.  Pay attention to what and why you eat.  Too many of our calories are consumed out of boredom or stress rather than out of real hunger.  Don’t get tricked into supersizing everything. Shifting to reasonable portions is a great start to healthier eating.  Cutting back on sugary drinks like soda is a quick way to eliminate a tremendous amount of calories.  Look for opportunities to swap fresh foods in for processed foods.  Listen to your mother’s voice in your head and eat fruits and vegetables every day.  Making healthier choices in what you eat makes a huge difference in your health.

Stop Using Tobacco.  Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death.  Quitting tobacco is one of the best things you can do for your health.  Plus, the money you will save from avoiding tobacco purchases and avoiding the costly medical treatments driven by tobacco can make a huge positive impact for you and your family.  You can quit and we can help.  Chari Andersen in NMC’s Lifestyle Medicine Department can help you access information, support, and free gum and patches for nicotine replacement.  To learn more, call Chari at 524-8480.

The best thing a man can do for his own health is not ignore it.  If you sense something is wrong, treat it like your check engine light.  Have it checked by an expert.  Take preventive steps like the ones described above to keep things from going wrong in the first place.  Your body will thank you and will reward you with the strength and energy you need to do the things you love, to help avoid healthcare costs, and to live a longer more enjoyable life.  Make an appointment with your primary care provider.  Connect with us at www.RiseVT.com.  Make this “Mo-vember” the start of a healthier life.

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer