Men need to make changes for healthy lifestyles

| June 4, 2010 | 0 Comments

Chris Halagarda
U.S. Navy Dietician

Courtesy PhotoFORT LEE, Va. — Celebrate Father’s Day early as June is Men’s Health Month, and June 14-20 is Men’s Health Week. 

The purpose of having these events during this month and week is to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men.

Here are a few facts that just begin to “scrape the surface” of diseases that men need to be cautious about:

•29 million men have high blood pressure or hypertension,

•50 million men have high cholesterol, and

•8 million men have diabetes.

Millions of men say they’re going to do something about their health, but they need to make this year different. So, do it. 

Changes don’t have to be big to make a difference. Follow the “KISS” — keep it simple, sir — principle because small changes to a lifestyle will result in huge changes in a life.

First, go to a physician for a physical. Many men avoid the doctor because they’re afraid of what they might hear, but go and get current health results. Then, use them as a starting point for changes to come. 

If you are fortunate enough to be given a clean bill of health, use those numbers as a baseline and don’t let them change.

Working out on a regular basis —  be it at the gym, at home or on the job, has proven to be a direct link to restoring youth and vigor. 

Whatever men choose to do for exercise, they need to do it several times a week and take it slow to start.

According to the National Weight Control Registry, walking is the number one exercise used to lose weight — and the Registry knows about weight loss. 

All 5,000 registrants of the NWCR have lost more than 30 pounds and kept it off for more than a year. So, a change can be as simple as going for a 30- to 60-minute walk, just five days a week.

Next, men need to increase the nutrient density of their diet. Most Americans eat far too much saturated fat and sodium, and most don’t get enough nutrients. 

Go to the commissary and choose fish, nuts, seeds and beans, along with lean meat, low-fat milk and cheese for protein. Load the cart with all the fruits and vegetables you can, and always choose 100-percent whole grains when buying bread, cereal, rice and other grains. 

For fat, choose nut-butters such as natural peanut, almond, pistachio and soy butter. They’re delicious, filling and rich in healthy fats.

This year, don’t let Men’s Health Month go by without making a change. Try going to sleep 30 minutes earlier, blocking off 15 minutes a day for meditation or deep breathing, finding a healthy recipe to substitute for a typically unhealthy meal, or reducing alcohol or cigarette consumption each day. 

Whatever change a man might choose, he just should remember that small changes eventually lead to big results.

For more information about making healthy choices and recipes, visit Ask the Dietitian at

(Editor’s Note: Chris Halagarda is the Navy fitness and performance enhancement dietitian. Readers can e-mail Halagarda at

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