Give the gift of good health to the man in your life this Father’s Day

Men are 80 percent less likely than women to see a healthcare professional regularly, according to federal statistics. They are also more likely to die from eight of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S., and more than twice as likely to say they’ve never had contact with a doctor or health professional as an adult.  Ever.

With those sobering statistics, Dr. Jesse Mills, director of The Men's Clinic at UCLA, has a suggestion – give the man in your life the gift of better health this Father’s Day.

First, make a commitment to talk to him about his health.

According to Dr. Mills, men are more likely – and more willing – to talk with family members about health issues if family members express their concerns in supportive and positive ways.  If he tries to dodge your questions, find out why he is reluctant, and emphasize how important his good health is to you.

“No matter how healthy – or unhealthy – a man is, my first suggestion to family members is to encourage the man in their life to take 30 minutes, three times a week to focus on medical and psychological health. That will help him stay healthy and reduce his risk of life-threatening diseases,” suggests Dr. Mills.

That means:

  • 30 minutes or longer of exercise daily at least four times a week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 20 percent of American adults get adequate exercise.
  • 30-minute nap. Sleep deprivation affects every aspect of a man’s life, including fertility.  A nap – as well as eight hours of sleep each night – is important.
  • 30 minutes of quiet meditation, reflection or other form of relaxation, such as reading, hitting golf balls or watching sports. Approximately one in 10 men suffer from depression or anxiety, but fewer than half seek treatment.
  • 30 minutes to eat dinner with the family in a relaxed environment that encourages social connection.
  • 30 minutes of sex – it’s exercise, relaxation and connection; all good for health.

Additionally, if your loved one has not been to a medical professional for three to five years, make an appointment for a physical within 30 days of Father’s Day.

Men need screening for a variety of health issues and risk factors.  While it depends on their age and family history, most should be tested for prostate cancer, diabetes, their risk for cardiovascular disease and urologic health. In addition, doctors may need to discuss obesity, alcohol intake and possible psychological issues, before creating a treatment plan.

Moreover, all men should have a colonoscopy after the age of 50, since colon cancer can be cured if detected in its early stages.

“You’d be surprised, when a man is actually in a doctor’s office, and is asked questions in a supportive, non-judgmental way, he is a lot more forthcoming in discussing health issues-- and then more likely to take a more proactive role in his future health,” says Dr. Mills.

This Father’s Day, tell the man in your life to take 30 minutes three times a week to focus on his health. Make an appointment for him to see a healthcare professional if it’s been longer than 5 years, especially if he’s over 45.

“Then point out that seeing a doctor will most likely extend his life – and give you more years to enjoy him,” says Dr. Mills.

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