Here’s to the strong men in our lives. Whether they’re the first handsome face we see when we wake up in the morning, the ones who taught us how to ride our first bike, even the ones who cast a smaller shadow in their Little League uniforms, now’s a great time to show we care about them.
June may be the time of backyard barbeques and trips to the beach, but it’s also Men’s Health Month, dedicated to raising awareness of the various health problems of men and boys and encouraging early detection and treatment. We moms are in a special position for this: “Women want to provide a healthy role model for their children,” says Debra Etelson, MD, a pediatrician and mother of three. “Many times, it’s the mother holding the rapport with the doctor, which makes her feel more responsible for the health of the family.” With this in mind, here are tips to help us guide the men in our lives towards a healthier lifestyle—now and all year round.
Stay active together. Exercise is not only an ideal way to stay in shape, it can also be a good bonding experience. Encourage the men in your house to get up off the couch and pump up the pulse. Take a long walk after dinner, participate in a run/walk 5k or go for a hike or bike ride together. Dr. Etelson plays soccer with her family. “It’s not about the competition, but about the fitness,” she says.
Make healthier food choices. You can’t control everything your guys eat, but you can guide them towards better options. At the grocery, swap in low-fat frozen yogurt for Rocky Road ice cream and pretzels for potato chips. And nix sugar-laden sodas for flavored seltzer water—plain water with a slice of fruit is great, too. Make lean meat, veggie and fruit filled meals a habit. You can still indulge in chicken parmesan or three-cheese crust pizza now and then.
Get tandem check-ups. Men are statistically shown to make less-frequent visits to the doctor than women. While you may be the one scheduling your son’s check-ups, encouraging your husband to see the doc may be a bit more difficult. Armin Brott, fatherhood author and spokesperson, believes the biggest reason men avoid doctors is they’ve been taught to be rugged—”so who has the time to go to the doctor?” he says. “In our 20s, men are too tough; in our 30s, men are too busy; and in our 40s, men are too scared of what they’ll find out.” Encouraging the men in your life to get a check-up may be more effective if you’re getting one, too. Try and schedule your appointments for the same day, and maybe schedule a date night afterward.
Do self-checks together. While regular doctor visits are crucial, self-checks are also a good way to protect your family from health issues that might go under-the-radar. And they can be more effective when done by a partner. For example, help your guy check his back after he checks his front side for skin changes. Do it together and it will be simpler to remember and make a routine.
Have fun. Be sure to slow down and de-stress on weekends after demanding work weeks. Take the family out for an adventure, or double date with friends and toast with some drinks (in moderation, of course). While maintaining your physical health is vital, so is your mental health. The little guys usually need no reminder to have fun, but you might need to give Dad a nudge to let out a chuckle and a smile.