A fishing pole or a new tie may be traditional Father’s Day gifts, but experts say another important gift could be a conversation with the men in your life about taking control of their own health.
Brandon Leonard, the director of strategic initiatives with the Men’s Health Network, says the time spent caring for and providing for their families can lead many men to neglect their own health care needs.
“Men need to take responsibility for their own health so they can be there for the birthdays and the graduations and the weddings,” says Leonard, “and so they can enjoy life with their family and with their friends as well.”
Leonard says prevention is the best medicine, and creating good habits now will have a huge impact on what happens down the road. As part of Men’s Health Week, he’s encouraging men to get regular check-ups at the doctor, and to think about risk factors for heart disease, as well as different types of cancers and diabetes.
Leonard says men of all ages need to focus on getting regular exercise and good nutrition.
“Getting plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains and lean proteins is crucial,” says Leonard. “But equally as important is to make a conscious decision to cut back on things like junk food, sweets, and fried foods, because those are certainly going to have an impact on your health down the road.”
Leonard says heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. As they age, he adds, it’s important for men to stay on top of their blood pressure and cholesterol and get regular screenings for certain types of cancer.
“Continuing to look at things like prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and urinary tract issues are vital as we age,” says Leonard. “An enlarged prostate can become an issue at that point as well.”
Across California and the country, communities are celebrating Men’s Health Week with free screenings, health fairs and other educational events.