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Healthy Tahoe: Keeping score on men’s health

Matthew Wonnacott, MD
Dr. Matthew Wonnacott

Nearly 60% of men do not regularly see a doctor for preventive care; often men only seek a medical specialist when they are seriously ill.  

Whatever the reason for avoiding regular health checkups, putting off important screenings can be a dangerous reluctance. To make managing one’s health more approachable, men can focus on three main elements: fitness, physical health, and mental health.

Fitness



Being physically active is one of the most important steps people of all ages can take to improve their health, yet only half of U.S. adults and a quarter of high school students achieve the recommended amount. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of muscle strengthening activity each week for adults.

While that may sound like a lot, any movement is good movement, and men can start by doing something they enjoy. Whether that’s getting into the gym with friends, throwing a football with the kids, or walking along the lakeshore, time in motion is great for health. You may experience immediate benefits like better sleep, reduced anxiety, and lower blood pressure. Regular physical activity also helps maintain a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of chronic conditions and injuries. Exercise helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently, and when heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to enjoy daily life.



Physical Health

Without regular health visits, both minor and major health concerns can go unnoticed, making them more difficult to treat. Life-saving screenings can contribute to early detection of medical issues; screenings remain the best way to improve effectiveness of condition treatment and management if necessary. During a physical exam, a provider will assess a patient’s level of risk for certain medical issues based on personal or family medical history and help decide what preventative screenings are appropriate. Though ‘feeling healthy’ is the most common reason for putting off a wellness visit, a regular checkup with your health care team is a good way to validate health or identify a problem in its early stages.

Mental Health

Health is not only physical; it’s equally important to manage your mental and emotional health. Preventative health resources are available for common concerns like depression, and when it comes to managing mental health, many tools are within control. Self-care comes in many forms, like talking with loved ones, taking time to oneself, physical fitness, or pursuing a hobby, and the benefits are powerful. Studies have shown that people who have hobbies they are passionate about experience less stress and depression and have a more upbeat outlook on life. 

It takes strength to manage the health of your body and mind. Focus on these three pillars to keep it simple and start moving in the right direction, and protect your health with regular appointments and screenings.

Dr. Matthew Wonnacott is chief medical officer at Barton Health. Barton Health is hosting a Men’s Health Combine on Sept. 26-30, providing free, two-part wellness checks for men in the Tahoe community. The visit includes a dynamic performance test with our certified coaches, and a wellness evaluation with a medical provider. For more information, visit BartonHealth.org/MensHealthCombine.


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