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Wellness Tips

Male Call! Observe Men’s Health Month by Lowering Your Health Risks

At work and at play, you may very well be in it to win it. But championing your health? If you're a man ... maybe not so much.

June is Men's Health Month1--an excellent time to resolve to lower your risks by seeking regular medical advice and getting recommended, age-appropriate screening tests.

Anchored by a Congressional health education program, the goal of this initiative is to improve early detection of preventable diseases, as well as to educate men and boys to get timely treatment for diseases and injuries.

There’s clearly room for improvement on the male health front. The 2011 National Health Interview Survey found that only 52 percent of men met the federal physical activity guidelines established in 2008 for engaging in leisure-time aerobic activities. What’s more, one-third of men ages 20 and over are obese and nearly 32 percent have hypertension.2

The benefits of becoming an active partner in your health care are very real. There’s a proven connection between adopting healthy habits and performing at your best physically, mentally and psychologically. And consider this: If you’re a dad, every day is Father’s Day. You can positively impact the health choices your kids make—both now and in the future—by letting them see you “walk the walk.”

Preventive measures: men vs. women

The numbers tell the tale—you have a long way to go to catch up with women.3 Comparatively, men are:

24% less likely to have visited a doctor in the past year

 

22% more likely to have neglected cholesterol tests

 

28% more likely to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure

 

32% more likely to be hospitalized for long-term complications of diabetes

 

24% more likely to be hospitalized for immunization-preventable pneumonia

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Healthy, Fun, Free … Just 3 Reasons to Get Fit in the Outdoors!

If you love blue skies, green trees and chirping birds, then you know why they call it the great outdoors. But even if you’ve become a tad too attached to your couch of late, Mother Nature forgives you.

Who knew fresh-air fitness was so good for you? “Exercising outdoors enhances your overall well-being by benefiting your body and your brain in a number of ways,” says Dr. Dan Aspery, BCBSAZ vice president health services. A few healthy examples he cites:

As obvious as it sounds, outdoor activity gets you off the couch and moving. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends engaging in moderate aerobic activity (meaning it noticeably increases your heart rate) for 30 minutes five days a week, or vigorously exercising for 20 minutes three days a week.

Soaking up the sun’s rays is the best source of Vitamin D. The rule, of course, is to wear sunscreen when you’re outdoors. The exception: Exposing skin to 10-15 minutes of direct sunshine three times a week ensures you receive adequate amounts of this heart-protective nutrient that’s also essential for healthy bones and teeth.1

Sunlight also lightens your mood. Sunny days stimulate the brain to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that supports a healthy mood and helps fight depression.2

"Getting physical" as a family models healthy habits for your kids. Regularly participating in active pursuits (and logging less TV or computer screen time) helps them meet the 5-2-1-0 goal to make healthier choices and fight childhood obesity. Just as important, you're making memories!

Closing the door, if only briefly, on stress is therapeutic. Among other physical effects, stresses at home or in the workplace trigger the hormone cortisol, which can spike blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Taking time for exercise, on the other hand, elevates energy and reduces anxiety by promoting the release of feel-good endorphins.3

Not only are these al fresco activities fun and healthful, they require little or no special equipment.

 

  • Take a hike. From the Grand Canyon to urban recreational areas to off-the-beaten-path trails, Arizona offers a wealth of picturesque options—and varying degrees of challenge—for hikers.
  • Ride a bike. Cruise the neighborhood, or put a bicycle rack on the car and discover new territory. Don’t forget your helmet!
  • Make a splash. Water aerobics improve your cardiovascular fitness. What’s more, exercising in water provides continuous resistance to help strengthen and tone muscles—yet its buoyancy goes easy on your joints.
  • Walk a mile…or more, or less. Even a brisk 10-minute walk on your lunch break can burn calories while giving you an energy boost.

Remember to always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program or engaging in vigorous physical activity. The information in this article is not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of your physician or healthcare provider.

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