Healthy Living: A Lifelong Exercise
The male body follows a timeline from birth to death. Through infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle and old age, men face health challenges. These challenges can arise in various forms of biological, psychological and social problems.
The good news is that like every challenge, healthy living offers opportunities for improvement.
In childhood, men may suffer from circumcision complications, enuresis (bed wetting), reduced access to education and poor school performance (where boys are falling further and further behind). These issues can affect a boy’s future and his outlook on life. At some point, a young man will disengage from his mother and re-create his identity in a more masculine model. Historically however, there have been few positive role models for young men.
By adolescence, biological development and physical health are probably at their peak. Emotionally and psychologically, young men may still need further maturation. Rebelliousness, risk-taking, alcohol and substance abuse, drunk driving, and hyper-sexuality are the inherent risks to “invincible” tweens, teens and twenty-somethings. As a result, risks associated with this age group include accidental death, paraplegia, unplanned pregnancies, and addiction.
Adulthood brings a new set of challenges, including financial and career stresses, particularly as men plan for marriage and child-rearing. Raising a child is a commitment of 20 years or more. For this reason, it’s important for men to take birth control seriously -- birth control isn’t just a “woman thing”. While early adulthood is generally a very healthy time for men, it is also a critical time for identifying early signs of the big three health risks: diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). Unfortunately, because most young adult men are quite healthy, they have limited contact with health care professionals. By being proactive, it may be possible to avoid those factors that contribute to health attacks and strokes later in life. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment!
By middle age, most men continue to consider themselves extremely healthy, even when underlying problems may exist. At this point, erectile dysfunction may become a problem, which could be a sign of heart disease, hormone problems, or other illnesses. It is a warning sign that should not be ignored.
It’s never too late to make lifestyle changes -- men of all ages should think about maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutritious and well-balanced diet and exercising regularly. If you have not already, consider quitting smoking and using substances, including alcohol, in moderation. Also, stress management is an important part of a long life; men are known for carrying the weight of the world (or at least their family) on their shoulders. Don’t let stress cut your life short, find ways to manage your stress in a healthy way.