Did you know that men are more likely than women to die of suicide, skip doctor’s appointments and routine screenings, and avoid seeking help for mental illness? Hoping to change these attitudes, Northern Westchester Hospital recently gathered a panel of experts, including a physical therapist, a urologist, and a psychiatrist to discuss health issues from the male perspective. The event, was held by Northern Westchester Hospital’s Center for Healthy Living in collaboration with Phelps Hospital, both part of Northwell Health.
The panel included Gerald Loehr PT, DPT, MBA, TPI II, a physical therapist at Northern Westchester Hospital, who discussed fitness and healthy training tips; Warren Bromberg, MD, Board Certified Urologist at CareMount Medical, Medical Director of the Prostate Program at the Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center, and Director of the Minimally Invasive and Robotics Surgery Program at Northern Westchester Hospital, who shared what men need to know about prostate and testicular health, including the latest recommendations for cancer screenings; and Richard Catanzaro, MD, Chair of Psychiatry at Northern Westchester Hospital, who debunked mental health myths while offering real-life coping strategies for stress. Here is some of their advice:
Getting in shape is a process: Depending on where you start, it can take between six and 12 weeks to begin seeing progress after you start an exercise program.
- For best results, vary exercises for different muscle groups. For example, the back and chest are opposing muscle groups, so work the chest one day and the back a different day.
- Being sore has an upside. The soreness you experience one to three days after exercise indicates that muscles are rebuilding. If you stop getting sore, that means you need to add more weight or change your program. Muscle confusion is a good thing.
- Stretching is very important. Make sure to engage in dynamic stretching at least three times a week.
Diet counts: Eating a banana, nuts carbs or protein 30-40 minutes before you work out can give you energy.
- You need fat to build muscles, so your diet should include lean meat that is high in protein, such as chicken or fish. A good rule of thumb is eat one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.
- Make sure to hydrate: Hydrate before, during and after workouts, and make sure you get enough salt and potassium. Sports drinks tend to have a lot of sugar, so it’s a good idea to dilute them with water.
- If you experience severe cramping a shot of pickle juice.
Prostate and testicular cancer: Age is a risk factor for both these cancers.
- Testicular cancer is a disease of young men, with the average age of diagnoses between ages 25 and 35.
- Men with testicular cancer will typically notice a change in their testicles, which may feel swollen, misshapen uncomfortable. We recommend a periodic self-exam in the shower. Knowing your body will help you notice something different.
- Prostate cancer is most common after age sixty. In fact, 75% of men have prostate cancer that is never detected.
- There are typically no early symptoms for prostate cancer, which is typically diagnosed with a blood test. Men may notice that it becomes more difficult to urinate as the prostate cancer enlarges.
- Family history—having a father, brother or son with prostate cancer—is a risk factor.
- Other risk factors include smoking and obesity.
- If you do have a family history start getting screenings at age 40. Otherwise, get a baseline PSA test starting at age 45-50.
Real men have emotions. Believing that emotions are a sign of weakness remains a powerful and ingrained aspect of masculinity. But emotions are part of the human experience,
- The three most common mental health issues for men are depression, anxiety and substance abuse, which tend to travel together and feed one another.
- For men, suicide is among top 10 causes of death, and completed suicide among men is four times higher than among women.
The role of social media: Social media can be treacherous because it shows everyone’s “greatest hits,” reinforcing the ideas that everyone is doing well and having fun.
- While COVID has increased the role of social media in our lives, it has also increased the availability of on-line resources such as virtual therapy and text therapy, which help break down barriers and access for men who are reluctant to ask for help.
Alleviate stress: Maintain health routines, including exercise, meditation and deep breathing. Get enough sleep and try to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Be mindful. If you have a glass of wine to relax, make sure that one glass doesn’t become two.
- Be aware of signs of depression. Depression shows up differently in men. Instead of exhibiting sadness, men may become angry, irritable, aggressive or restless. They may show a decreased interest in work; a loss of sexual desire and an inability to perform; difficulty concentrating; sleep issues that can manifest as trouble sleeping or sleeping too much; and changes in eating habits, such as overeating or loss of appetite.
- Be aware of red flags such as expressing thoughts of wanting to die or harm oneself. If you hear someone expressing these thoughts, don’t let it go. Approach the person, and ask how they are doing. Open a dialogue. Keep checking in, and suggest they seek professional help.