Use Men’s Health Month as a Springboard for Good Choices

Use Men’s Health Month as a Springboard for Good Choices

There are lots of health tips that men and women can both benefit from. Getting enough sleep and exercise and eating a well-balanced diet are some good all-around health tips everyone can use. But the genders have some pretty diverse health challenges. For example, did you know men die, on average, five years sooner than women?

Whether you are a man looking into your own health concerns or a woman with men in her life, Men’s Health Week (June 12 to 18) is celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year and comes right in the middle of Men’s Health Month. If you’re a nurse and a man, use this opportunity to talk to your male patients about the specific health problems men face and what to do to help prevent them or cope with them.

How can men make sure they are doing the best they can for their own health? Here are some pointers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and

Get Screenings

One of the best ways to stay healthy is to get regular screenings for diseases and conditions that can be detected and therefore treated, early. Get an annual checkup so you can stay on top of your blood sugar levels, your weight, your cholesterol, and your blood pressure. Get a colonoscopy if you’re past age 50— earlier if you have a family history of colon cancer or if you have certain conditions that could increase your risk. Be sure a prostate screening is part of your annual exam and examine your testicles at least every month to notice any changes or lumps and bumps. Check your skin regularly for new moles or those that seem to have changed size, shape, or color. If you notice any unusual changes on your body, bring it to the attention of your physician.

Play Hard, But Play Safe

Whatever your interest—biking, running, flying, rock climbing—make sure you practice basic safety rules. Use proper protective gear and equipment. If you’re swimming, go with someone. If you’re hiking or camping, let people know where you’ll be. Bring along extra provisions and proper weather gear. Basic safety considerations can go a long way toward keeping you healthy.

Be Social

Men tend to let their social relationships slide when life gets busy. With work and family obligations, it’s tough to carve out time with friends. But social connections and solid friendships can help ward off many health problems including depression, heart disease, and even dementia.

Make Healthy Choices

All the basic health tips hold true because they work. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and plant proteins. Ease up on meats, cheeses, butter, fried foods, and treats like full-fat ice cream. Get daily or near-daily exercise. Get enough sleep. Keep your vaccines up to date. Use protection during sex. Don’t smoke anything, ever. Drink alcohol in moderation. Wear sunscreen. Protect your heart health (and keep inflammation down) by keeping your stress under control. Find help for your stress if you can’t manage it on your own.

Wear Blue to Start the Conversation

The Friday before Father’s Day is traditionally a Wear Blue Day, when anyone concerned about men’s health can wear blue clothing or blue ribbon pins to show support of Men’s Health Month. You can also give a shout out on social media with #MensHealthMonth or #ShowUsYourBlue.

Spread the word about men’s health during the month of June. You never know what kind of lasting impact a few words of wisdom might have,

Why Do Nurses Gain Weight?

Why Do Nurses Gain Weight?

There’s been some recent research that suggests nurses are more likely to be overweight as compared to the general population. Maybe you struggle with maintaining a healthy weight yourself. If so, that’s bad news for you personally, and for your patients, who seek good role models for healthy living.

One way to change poor health habits is to take a cold, hard look at why they exist in the first place. That will make it much easier to develop behavioral strategies to address those problems.

When nurses try to explain to themselves why they’ve packed on the pounds (or can’t seem to shake them), here’s what they often say:

“I’m working 12-hour shifts, eating late or at weird times, and you’re starved when you get off work.”

“We spend so much time taking care of others we don’t leave much energy to take care of ourselves.”

“Our job is not only physically demanding but also mentally and emotionally challenging at times. I’m a stress eater.”

“It’s the shift work. When I switched to the night shift it changed my whole eating pattern.”

“It’s the type of nursing. When working on the surgical floor, my stress level can be through the roof.”

“Working 12-hour shifts doesn’t allow me to get the proper kind of exercise. I’m too tired to get up earlier than usual before my shift to work out, and too tired after my shift to fit in a session.”

“I don’t get the proper amount or quality of sleep, especially when I’m working nights. Lack of sleep and fatigue slows metabolism.”

“Eating goodies on the run during our shift (brought in by doctors, administrators, and families), then eating a full meal later because it doesn’t feel like we ate.

“Sometimes I eat too much just before my shift because I never know when I’ll get to eat again. I never get a break. I’m lucky if I can take five minutes to go to the restroom.”

“I feel I need – deserve! — comfort food when I do ‘bad’ shifts. Shift work is a definite cause of overeating and overweight.”

“I barely eat all day, then come home late, and am so hungry that I eat a TON right before bed!”

“My young kids only want to eat a few things (like fast food) that are not the best for them or me!”

“I gain weight because of anger. I am all for giving my all to everyone else, but in a 12-hour shift if we actually get 30 minutes for lunch it’s a miracle.”

“My hospital’s cafeteria is a nightmare! The salad bar is the only healthy choice, and it’s all slimy or dried out at the end of the night. I usually end up just getting a cheeseburger at the grill.”

“The holidays are the worse! People bring in chocolates, and cookies and cakes and my resolve gets weaker and weaker as days go by.”

“I rely on lots of carbs and caffeine to stay awake during night shifts, or to keep going without breaks, or to stay awake during a long commute after a 12-hour shift.”

How about you? Detail your weight challenges today and tomorrow we’ll cover some possible solutions.

Jebra Turner is a freelance health writer living in Portland, Oregon. You can visit her at




Healthy Living is Catching

Healthy Living is Catching

It’s no secret: It’s much easier to reach health goals when friends, family, and co-workers have favorable attitudes toward exercise, sensible eating, etc. Many research studies seem to prove the “social contagion” theory, which posits that folks in our social circle heavily influence our behaviors. It’s like our grandparents always said: “Birds of a feather flock together.”

One researcher, Nicholas Christakis, has tracked how traits — such as obesity and smoking — spread from individual to individual through vast social networks. It isn’t even just intimates who can influence you; a friend three times removed can have an impact, too. In this Ted Talk, he explains how contagion takes place, and how to use the phenomena to your advantage.

Of course that’s not to say that peer pressure is that only thing driving our actions when it comes to healthy habits. Making a personal decision to cycle to work or eat a plant-based diet, say, is possible even if all those around you have a love affair with the automobile and the Bar-B-Q. But it’s easier to take care of your health when you see good examples around.

What if you don’t have those good examples to support you? Here are some options, then:

1. Be the one to set a good example at home.

If your family members have turned into couch potatoes, suggest you all get out of the house and exercise together. Get a family membership to a gym and go a few times a week. Even if mama is on the elliptical and papa is in the pool and sis is on the weight machines, you can still cheer each other on toward your fitness goals.

2. Be the one to set a good example at work.

Help co-workers identify their motivation to get healthy. Some will be concerned about living longer, others with looking better, and still others with improving painful conditions, such as bad backs. Then set up a competition between units or floors or randomly assigned teams. Games are an effective way to add fun and camaraderie to what’s usually an onerous task: Replacing poor habits with healthy ones.

3.Connect with folks at an in-person health program.

Your workplace may already have a wellness program with an on-site gym, pool, and fitness trainers. Or maybe they provide limited resources, such as Weight Watchers, TOPS, or Overeaters Anonymous meetings. Take advantage of appealing health activities offered at your workplace or in your community.

4.Connect with folks online at a healthy-living social media site.

One such site,, offers both free and paid levels of service. There are many forums for healthcare professionals, including these two:

Nurses on the LOSE: “Code of Ethics~5. The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others…… Nurses joining together to support and encourage one another to make healthier choices for ourselves and those around us.” (2571 members.)

Night Shift Nurses: “Nurses working night shift & struggling to care for themselves the way they care for their clients & family. Balancing & embracing school, work, life & health.” (977 members.)

Do you influence others toward healthy living? Or find yourself being influenced? Please let us know.

Jebra Turner is a freelance health writer in Portland, Oregon. You can visit her onine at