Ask your dad, brother or son or your favorite male mechanic or barista — all of them are likely to have internalized the role of protector to some degree.
It’s a tendency fostered by both society and biology for men to feel responsible for providing for and defending family, friends, livelihood and community from threats.
Some take that to the extreme of not paying enough attention to what might threaten them, particularly when it comes to their health.
If this is you, stop it! Whatever may imperil you puts those you love at risk of being without you.
AN ONCE-PLUS OF PREVENTION
The best way to defend your health is preventing issues from cropping up in the first place, which begins with understanding how to choose nutritious food and get adequate physical activity into your schedule. It can be easy to misjudge how well you’re doing on these fronts.
Many men focus on getting enough protein to build muscle and are less interested in eating vegetables or fruits. They miss out on the incredible anti-inflammatory benefits of nutrients found almost exclusively in plants, including vitamin C, flavonoids and fiber.
Meats are also the source of many essential nutrients, but the risks of eating too much meat, especially processed, are well-documented. Everyone needs to find a healthy balance.
Exercise and the benefits you get from it can be hard to pin down as well. Men take on the majority of the physical labor needed in our world whether it’s at work or home, but it’s not always the type that benefits them the most.
The start-and-stop nature of many physical jobs or chores doesn’t bring the same bang for your buck as high-intensity interval training or endurance cardio, and heavier lifting can do more harm than good if you’re not properly conditioned for it.
Health screenings aren’t always fun. No matter how often we tell ourselves that knowledge is power, they can be laced with discomfort and fear of what the results might be.
The fact remains you’re more likely to have a positive outcome with any conditions or diseases with an early diagnosis, whether you respond with lifestyle changes, medical treatment or both.
Make sure you’re tracking basic info about your blood pressure, weight, glucose levels and other vital stats, instead of filing them away and forgetting them by the time your next checkup rolls around.
And make sure to keep these appointments on a regular basis; get a physical and lab work done at least every other year and more frequently as your doctor recommends. The specific type of screenings suggested can vary depending on age and other risk factors.
Being proactive about your health on all fronts will change and extend your life.
Taking care of yourself will have a ripple effect on the world around you, starting with family members and friends and radiating out to your professional life and other broader roles. The sooner you start the better it’ll be for everybody!