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Hello Idaho: Men's Health Month

Focusing on mental and emotional needs, along with physical well-being, is important.

BOISE, Idaho — June marks Men's Health Month, and is a great time for men around Idaho to focus on prioritizing their health and well-being, Optum Idaho's Dennis Baughman says.

"We’re more likely to die younger. Women have a life expectancy of about 4 plus more years than us," he said. "We’re more likely to be more overweight or obese. Women are also 70% more likely to go to a doctor’s visit, so we don’t do a good job of taking care of ourselves, and unfortunately, some of the effects to our life and our bodies show that.”

Baughman said his suggestions for getting healthier are nothing new. Getting exercise - 150 minutes of moderate working out per week is the CDC recommendation - eating balanced meals, and getting a good night's sleep are all important for overall well-being.

"Make sure you’re regularly seeing your doctor," he added. "Things that are identified early are much easier to treat than things that are identified late.”

Men are encouraged to see a primary doctor twice a year for a checkup, even if nothing seems overtly wrong. 

But physical health is not the only thing to be mindful about, Baughman said. Taking care of your mental and emotional health is also an important step.

“Make sure you’re making time for the things you enjoy, whether it’s fishing, carpentry, gardening, make sure you’re carving out time in your day, week, month to do those things," Baughman suggested. "Find things that are interesting to you that you want to develop new skills in. Do you want to take up the guitar? Do you want to learn Spanish? Whatever you’re interested in. Make sure you’re taking an opportunity to spend time with friends, family, loved ones and enjoying those social relationships.”

For anyone concerned about their father, brother, husband, friends, or other men in their life, encouraging them to seek help can make a big difference. Baughman said that being honest with someone and relaying concerns is a good first step.

"We also want to encourage them and let them know we’re not coming from a place of judgment, we’re not coming to tell them we’re failing or being difficult, we want to come be helpful. After that, we really want to promote hope. Hope is one of those key things that really allows a person to believe the future can be better, that the present can get better. In addition to that, we want to talk to them about potential resources that are available to them, either having those already in hand or looking at them together," he said. "There is a number of providers all over the state that specialize in men’s services, so these are providers that have specialized training or services that work more effectively with men. And then lastly, we want to stay in touch with those individuals we’re concerned about. Text messages, phone calls, it’s not a one and done. We want to stay engaged with that person we care about."

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