Men: Don’t Skip the Doctor

Men lead morbidity rates for almost every leading cause of death in the United States. There’s a reason for that.

Men aren’t proactive about going to the doctor. In fact, a 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that they’re 80 percent less likely than women to have regular medical care. Often when men do go to the doctor, it’s because they either have symptoms they can’t ignore, or they are pushed into their visit by a loved one.

Reasons men frequently give for not going to the doctor include:

1. It Costs Too Much

Men tend to avoid doctor’s appointments because of concerns over whether or not they can afford it. Fortunately, many more people are covered by health insurance now, so the out-of-pocket expense might be less. It’s important to understand your coverage, including specific doctors and hospitals. If you don’t have insurance, there are often community resources that can help.

2. I Don’t Have a Doctor

Finding a doctor can be a hassle, but once you know who your insurance covers, it’s easier to discuss doctors with your friends. Doing your research online is also a good way to get past this hurdle.

3. Avoiding Pain or Discomfort

Men sometimes worry they’ll have to undergo a procedure or test that will be painful or uncomfortable. Fear of the unknown is understandable and valid, but it’s also something that conversations with your primary care doctor can alleviate. Once you establish a relationship with your doctor, this gets much easier.

4. But I Feel Fine

Insisting there’s nothing wrong is another common excuse. While you might actually be fine, many conditions don’t show symptoms until they’ve already reached a serious state—lung cancer, for example. Some conditions, such as high blood pressure, might only be detected when something worse occurs, such as a heart attack or stroke. If you visit your doctor regularly, even when you feel fine, you can undergo the screenings that can identify an underlying problem. Together, you and your doctor can develop a plan to improve your lifestyle and lower your risk for health complications.

Living a healthy life takes commitment and involves doing things you don’t always enjoy. Regular visits to your primary care physician, however, are worth it. Consider them an investment in your future—and in your family’s.

Ditch the Spare Tire

As you age, your metabolism slows down and the likelihood that extra calories will remain stored as fat in your midsection increases. That’s not ideal. Visceral fat, a form of belly fat, settles around your organs. This increases your risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

While the general buildup of fat in the midsection is normal, you can take steps to limit how much you accumulate. Methods include:

• Increasing muscle mass—Pick up strength training as part of your exercise routine. Even if you don’t lose weight, research has shown belly fat tends to decrease if you lift weights a couple days a week.

• Fill up with fruit—Increase your fruit and vegetable intake. It’ll help you feel full longer, and keep you from idle snacking on foods that expand your waistline. The fiber in fruits and vegetables also helps your heart.

• Don’t stress-eat—If your first instinct when stressed is to reach for the nearest bag of chips, it might be affecting your waistline. Instead, reach for something like string cheese, nuts or an apple, or find something else to do with your hands.

Sources: heart.org, ahealthiermichigan.org, umich.edu, umc.edu, va.gov, aarp.org, nextavenue.org