Surprise! Men and women are very different in quite a number of ways. For one thing, the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the LORD God fashioned woman from one of the man’s ribs (Genesis 2:7 and 2:20-23). We were different from the very point of creation folks!
Even when it comes to health, men often have different perspectives and different needs than women. According to the CDC, “Even excluding pregnancy-related visits, women were 33 percent more likely than men to visit a doctor. The rate of doctor visits for such reasons as annual examinations and preventive services was 100 percent higher for women than for men and medication patterns differed significantly.”
Certainly not all men neglect their health, but those who do run the risk of developing serious chronic health conditions, such as hypertension, heart disease, prostate cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and Type 2 Diabetes.
In honor of Men’s Health Month, I’ve asked one of our expert Health Coaches on staff, Danny George, to give me some deeper insight into how men can significantly improve their health.
Danny grew up being very active in sports; with five older brothers, there was no shortage of friendly competition either. After excelling in track and field during his high school career, Danny decided he wanted to help athletes reach their full potential through human performance. Over time Danny realized there was a dire need for the general population to know and implement the fundamentals of exercise and nutrition for improved health. He decided to get a bachelor’s degree in exercise science to sharpen his skills and give him a good foundation for coaching.
Now, Danny is committed to serving others by teaching them how to sift through the ever-confusing waters of the health and fitness industry. He is a certified personal trainer and pain-free performance specialist who specializes in exercise design and performance. He has a strong desire to help people live a healthy life through the biblical lens of bodily stewardship.
Man to man, here are his top tips and recs!
Question #1: As an experienced health coach, what obstacles have you seen that men specifically encounter when it comes to staying healthy, and how do you help them through those challenges?
Coach Danny: The biggest obstacle I’ve seen is a lack of openness. Many women will give you a 5-10 minute synopsis of their entire health history and what they are currently doing and why they are frustrated. Men, on the other hand, will often say something like “My doctor said I was fine 5 years ago and nothing’s changed since.” Or, “I eat right and exercise; what else is there to do?” Men tend to oversimplify, and I address this by trying to dig deeper through probing questions like this: “Wow, that’s awesome; what are some ways you’re ensuring you’re eating right?” or “How do you make exercising a priority in your life?”
Question #2: There seems to be a bit of a stigma that ordering a salad is not “manly.” Do you have any tips for men on how to begin to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into their daily routine?
Coach Danny: I try to remind men that we have a shorter life expectancy, and it’s not just because we’re not as smart as women. We simply don’t take good care of ourselves. I remind them that eating nutrient-dense foods is what will help get rid of a “beer gut” and help lead to having a stronger looking physique. Being lean and healthy is manly; neglecting your health is not.
Question #3: Men carry a lot of pressure and responsibility on their shoulders! What are your top recommendations for managing stress?
Coach Danny: This is very true and deep down all men need encouragement and affection, especially from loved ones. Men need to be told things like “I’m proud of you”, or “You’re really good at ___”, or “I’m thankful for all your hard work.” I think opening up to your loved ones about how you best receive love is really important for a man’s mental, physical, and spiritual health. Secondly, remembering that God has made us the stronger vessel and with that comes the command from God to love our wives like Christ loves the Church (Eph 5). If a man is feeling the weight of all his responsibilities, it’s important to remember that we have the opportunity to love like Christ loves – to die to self and be like Christ to our families. Lastly, I recommend eating right, exercising regularly, and prioritizing a normal sleep routine.
Question #4: Many men are “problem solvers” by nature. Do you have any tips to help a man use this innate skill to his advantage when making health changes?
Coach Danny: We can use this trait with our health by creating a system. First, look at what the issue is. Is it high cholesterol, high blood pressure, too much weight, etc.? Then take the time to learn what is causing the issue. Is a sedentary lifestyle causing the issue? Is it too much stress, lack of sleep, too much takeout food, etc.? Then, make a goal that is realistic and time-oriented to slowly get rid of what is causing the issue.
Think of your health like a car. If you put old oil into your car it may run for a while but eventually that old oil is going to slow things down. Once you’ve realized that the old oil is causing problems you would drain the oil, go to the store and by new oil and put it in. Similarly, if you’re gaining weight from too much fast food, you’d reduce the amount of fast food you eat to prevent gaining more weight.
Question #5: The glory days of playing sports five days per week are over for most men over 30. When it comes to exercise, what are your recommendations for middle-aged men?
Coach Danny: This is a great question that needs to be addressed more often, because most men respond to getting back into the gym by returning with the same intensity they left it with 14 years ago – Go big or go home! Sadly, many men go home because of injuries. My biggest advice is to start small. Start by going two times per week for 15-30 minutes for a month or two, and then going three times per week for 30 minutes for 2 months, and then going 3-4 times a week for 30-45 minutes, slowly increasing the intensity and/or duration. This concept is known as “progressive overload” in the exercise world and needs to be implemented even at the early stages of exercising no matter what kind of background a man has.
June is Men’s Health Month, and what better time to take some personal inventory and reboot your health focus? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Reach out to Coach Danny or one of our other Christ-centered certified Health Coaches for additional support. We are here to help and encourage you in your unique health journey!