While Movember may be best known as the month to raise money by growing a mustache (or “mo,” as they say in Australia), the charity event is much more than that: it’s a movement to draw attention and research funds to the pressing issue of preventable premature death among men. This year, Movember focuses on preventing suicide, testicular cancer, and prostate cancer–some of the leading causes of preventable death among men.
Movember is a great time to check in with your lifestyle and make adjustments that can help you live a longer and healthier life. Here are our top tips to keep you healthy this Movember. Mustache optional.
1. Food: Friend or foe?
What does food mean to you? Energy? Nutrition? Comfort? Habit? Celebration? It may be a challenging first step, but taking a good look at what you consume and comparing it to what you need can get you started on a healthier path this Movember. Putting some thought into why and how you eat can go a long way towards improving your mental and physical health. Men are less likely than women to examine their relationships with food. Are you a mindless midnight snacker? A morning donut addict? Becoming a more mindful eater and shifting your habits to satisfying meals may help. There is overwhelming evidence supporting the many benefits of cutting or limiting sugar, starch, processed foods, and seed oils. If you focus on getting enough protein, fiber, water, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, you won’t have as much room for the bad stuff, and you’ll quickly reap the benefits. Your brain, gut, and heart will thank you.
2. Exercise: Do you even lift, bro?
We all know that getting enough exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle. Staying active reduces your risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and many other health issues. It also keeps your mind sharp, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and can be a valuable form of stress relief. While “cardio” activity like biking and running has its place, don’t ignore the health benefits of resistance training—like weightlifting. Working correctly with weights is not just about getting ready for a good gun show. It brings added benefits like increased fat loss, better mental focus, cardiovascular protection, and stronger bones. Added bonus: stronger muscles make functional tasks for the rest of your life easier and more fun. If you don’t have a weight training plan in place, find a reputable coach or a good app and go get after it. An ideal program balances resistance/weight training, conditioning/cardio, and stretching/mobility work. And a gun show, if you must.
3. Preventative medicine: It’s not manly to avoid the Doc.
Did you know that men are far less likely to visit a doctor than women are? It might not be the most exciting event you’ve got planned this year, but don’t skip your annual physical. Even if you are feeling great, you should check in with your healthcare provider once a year to go over your numbers, like blood pressure, weight, and key blood test measurements like cholesterol and glucose levels. Depending on your age and other factors, your doctor will recommend screenings for colon cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and other diseases. And if you do have health changes or problems, it’s important to bring them up with your provider, since so many significant health issues start as minor nuisances that could signal a need for early detection and treatment.
4. Stop smoking: Kick the habit for good this Movember.
You already know that smoking is the major cause of lung cancer. Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death among men. Smoking is also linked to a host of other health problems, like heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Research shows that when you quit smoking, you increase your life expectancy, cut your risk of disease, protect your loved ones from secondhand smoke, feel healthier and more energetic, improve your sense of taste and smell, and improve the look of your skin and teeth. You will also save money to spend on more important things in life! If you’re having trouble quitting on your own, see your doctor for help.
5. Alcohol: Cut the booze
Are you just finishing up a Sober October? If so, way to go! You probably know that completely cutting alcohol provides a host of benefits, from cardiovascular protection to better sleep, weight loss, improved skin tone and increased testosterone production. If you haven’t tried it, cutting out or slashing your alcohol intake is worth the effort. You’ll find yourself with more time, energy, and money for healthier pursuits, and better relationships with your family, coworkers, and friends. If you need help quitting drinking, speak with your healthcare provider.
6. Stress relief: Chill out, man
Stress is a natural part of life, and sometimes the tension that comes with work and family obligations can lead us straight to unhealthy stress-relief options like booze, comfort food, and screen time. You probably know that these short-term fixes often make you feel worse in the long run (see tips 1, 5, and 10). This Movember, consider some healthier ways to deal with stress, like finding a new hobby, exercising, getting outside, listening to music, or practicing mindful breathing. Taking the time to help others–through organized volunteering or good old-fashioned neighborliness–can go a long way to getting a new perspective and taking your mind off your problems. Research shows that helping others can even provide physical health benefits, like reductions in blood pressure and chronic pain.
7. Mental health: Don’t go it alone
When it comes to mental health issues like depression, men are far less likely to seek help than women, and men are more likely to die by suicide. Mental health is the cornerstone of overall health, and depression is a key contributor to premature death. Though it can be difficult to show vulnerability, we know today that it takes strength and courage to acknowledge problems and seek out help. It may feel uncomfortable to start a conversation about mental health, but the rewards are worth the initial discomfort. Reach out to friends and family when you need help and make use of the valuable resources that are at your fingertips. If you are feeling lost and hopeless, contact a suicide prevention hotline. Professional therapy—in-person or online—is a valuable and confidential resource to help navigate life’s obstacles. If you’d like to explore telehealth counseling, check out our list of the best Online Therapy providers. Companies like Betterhelp and Cerebral offer a range of affordable online therapy options. Whether you are seeking help in person or online, know that you may need to meet with several professionals to find a therapist who’s right for you.
8. Friends: Social health is a thing too
While it’s important to maintain strong relationships with your spouse and children, don’t neglect your friends. Spending quality time with good friends can help you reduce stress and improve your mood and self-esteem. Research has even found that having a strong network of friends can add years to your life! It’s never too late to make new friends. Find an activity that you enjoy, and chances are there’s a club or group in your area you can join to find people who share your interests.
9. Sleep: Get the ZZZs
You know how you feel after a terrible night’s sleep. Obviously, good sleep is a must when it comes to functioning at work, enjoying your day, and feeling your best. Sleep also provides important benefits in regulating blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and stress hormones. Getting a good night’s rest is vital in reducing pain by allowing the body to repair damage caused by inflammation that builds during your waking hours. Poor sleep can cause increased cravings for unhealthy foods, and can reduce the production of testosterone, leading to problems with sex. If you’re having difficulty getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night, make sure you work on healthy sleep hygiene habits—like following a schedule, avoiding electronics in bed, reducing caffeine use, and finding healthy ways to wind down at night. If the problem persists, consult your doctor for other solutions. If you snore, seek medical help, as sleep apnea could be interfering with quality sleep.
10. Screen time: Put down the %$*# phone!
How did we ever live without our electronic devices? They bring us so much information and connection with the world. But sometimes it’s hard to let our screens have a rest. An overreliance on our devices can cause a host of problems, including memory loss, vision impairment, posture issues, sleep loss, and heart problems from the sedentary nature of our lives when we use them. Although the internet connects us, depression, isolation, and addiction are real threats when we can’t pull ourselves away from the virtual world. Be alert for the signs of online addiction in yourself and others and ask for help if you need it. Find ways to carve out some screen-free time for yourself, with exercise, outdoor time, and seeing people “IRL.” Even if it means you might miss out on the latest Top10.com list... we’ll be here when you get back.