June is National Men’s Health Awareness Month. Let us discuss some facts, theories, and opinions surrounding men’s health. It is all open to debate and modification because discussion, learning, and interaction are all part of healthy living.
Modern western medicine has finally caught up to the eastern traditions and embraced the necessary interdependence of mind, body, and spirit. Each plays an integral part in concert with the other two.
The human brain is comprised of approximately 86 billion neurons and just like almost everything else, if not challenged, stressed (in a good way) and stimulated, it can atrophy (waste away). Many people spend a few minutes each day studying a foreign language. Depending on time availability, some universities and colleges will allow auditing a class where one is allowed to “sit in” without charge but without receiving college credit. Perhaps we can make a point to look up the definition of any new words we see or hear. The possibilities are only limited to our imaginations and interest. When we do work, we sharpen our intellects, have more productive interactions, fight depression, and find motivation for physical fitness. Intellectual exercise has also been found to combat dementia.
Scientists began to find the stunning benefits of simple walking each day. It burns calories, promotes meditative thought, and mindfulness, and can lower the risk of dementia by 51% when people walk 9,800 steps per day, 25% for 3,800 steps per day (JAMA Neurology 06 September 2022). No medication can do that! Physical exertion releases endorphins (hormones that help us feel good) and can be therapeutic for depression (not a cure). Some find gratification in setting physical goals and the intellectual task of planning how to achieve them. No matter your fitness level or goals, always start with what is reasonable and make small, achievable, incremental goals. Talk with your physician before starting your exercise program. Excelsior Springs Hospital Outpatient Clinics have outstanding providers who would be excellent consultants.
Finally, we have a somewhat abstract concept of “spirit” or our consciousness. Scientists’ agree that this may be the only thing that cannot be explained by physics and chemistry. The spirit is nurtured by human interaction and community. This can be more difficult for men but, just like exercise can be done in small steps. Take interest and ask questions of those you meet even if you do not hit it off initially. We can also join groups of people with similar interests, perform random acts of kindness, and genuinely try to learn from others in their experience. Empathy and a grateful heart are unsurpassed value.
Wishing you well,
Dr. Brad Hoffman