It’s that time of year again when we put a spotlight on the importance of preventative healthcare and healthy lifestyles for boys and men: Men’s Health Week!
This week is a part of the larger international Men's Health Month, shifting the focus from the treatment of male health problems, to early prevention of the deadly ailments affecting men that are so often missed, or ignored altogether. It encourages men to take control of their health, and for men and families alike to teach their young boys healthy habits in childhood.
There are a million recommendations out there for how to celebrate and participate in Men’s Health Week, and all of them center on eating healthy and staying active. While this advice is definitely both true, and a vital component of prioritizing your health, it’s not necessarily helpful if you don’t know where to start on building healthier habits, or simply don’t feel motivated to start.
Barton took top Men’s Health Week participation ideas, and found fun, creative ways for men to start building a healthier lifestyle:
Most people’s first thought when they hear the word exercise is hitting the gym, which can seem intimidating for those who don’t know proper techniques or how to build a regimen. And for many, the thought of doing repetitive sets of exercises on big metal pieces of equipment all in the same room seems downright dull.
This is not to imply that going to the gym is a bad option, in fact it’s a great way to build a specialized routine to target your personal fitness goals. But if it’s not your cup of tea, there are plenty of ways to exercise that don’t feel like a chore.
Channel Your Inner Child
Everybody has some kind of recreational activity they’ve always wanted to try. Think about what your younger self might get excited about, whether it be boxing, breakdancing, surfing, or rock climbing, then find a class or rec center and go try it out!
Have an Adult Field Day
Speaking of your inner child, another way to let him out is to recreate the fun of a school field day at home with your family and friends. Set up different kinds of creative races, have a water balloon fight, and give rewards or prizes to the winners!
Join a Local Sports Team
Joining a sports team in your area is a great way to not only be active in your health journey, but also your community! If you don’t find a team sport you love local to your community, you can always look up what club sports are available nearby.
You want to eat things that are good for you, but you also want to like them. We know it can be difficult to turn down your favorite foods for healthier options, especially if your hands are tied on time to cook, but there are lots of ways to make healthy eating fun, especially if you like a good challenge.
Modify Your Favorites
Making small modifications to your go-to recipes, or recreating your favorite take-out option at home can give you the satisfaction of indulging in guilty pleasures while feeling good about what you’re putting in your body. Whether your goal is to lower a recipe’s calorie count, heighten its nutritional content, or both, these goals can be achieved with just a little bit of research. First identify the most unhealthy ingredients in your recipe, then do a bit of surfing on Google to find healthier alternatives.
- Pro Tip: Be sure that your alternative ingredient has similar properties to the ingredient you’re replacing to get the closest to your desired effect. For example, if you’re switching out all-purpose flour for a nut-based flour, find an alternative with similar protein and gluten content.
Test Your Inner Chef
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with your diet cooking the same foods day-in and day-out. Don’t let healthy eating get boring when there are millions of diverse and flavorful recipes out there to try. All you need to try them out is Google, ingredients, and a willingness to get cooking!
Challenge yourself to try at least one new healthy recipe per week; and if you have a partner or spouse, add a bit of romance to the mix by setting up some candles, plating the food gourmet-style, and making a healthy at-home date night out of it!
If you’re unsure where to begin with all of the healthy recipes out there, here are a few ideas to get started:
- Superfood of the Week: Get Googling to find lists of superfoods and their benefits, then pick out the ones you’re most interested in trying out, and add them to your own “To Try” list. Pick out one superfood from your list every week, and try a recipe that incorporates it. Take the challenge a step further by making it a theme ingredient for the whole week, cooking a different recipe using the superfood in a different way, for different days of the week.
- Veggie-Based Challenge: Vegetarian and vegan diets offer many health benefits including lower risk of cardiovascular disease and lower cholesterol. If you’re not keen on making a full lifestyle change, you can still reap some of the benefits by trying out a plant-based diet for one day per week or even one week per month.
- Travel for your Taste Buds: On the topic of trying new things, you can also bring variety to dinner time by finding and making a collection of healthy recipes from different cultures to prepare and try at home. It’s a fun challenge for both your cooking skills and your palate to try new ingredients you may not have heard of.
Learn the Recommended Screening Schedule
After heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death for American men. The good news is, since early detection significantly increases rates of cancer recovery, knowing and following the recommended screening schedule could save your life.
This Men’s Health Week, make it a point to review the National Foundation for Cancer Research’s (NFCR) recommended guidelines for men's cancer detection and be sure you're up to date on your recommended health appraisals, screening tests, and self-examinations. Be sure to organize your calendar accordingly, adding doctor’s appointments to your phone reminders and notifying your employer if and when you’ll be out of work for screenings.
While the process for scheduling, organizing, and even going to your appointments and screenings may not be the most exciting task, it’ll give you peace of mind about your health. However, if simply peace of mind is not enough of a motivator to get you to your check ups, build in rewards for yourself that you can claim after you’ve completed your goal, like buying tickets to a sports game after you finish your complete health exam, for example.
Everyone wants to be in tip top shape, but for a lot of us the process to get there seems painful. Starting new healthy habits doesn’t have to look like steamed broccoli for dinner every night or running a marathon on the treadmill. This Men’s Health Week, Barton encourages men and boys to participate in the best way they can: by prioritizing their health, and having fun while doing it!