One of the first year papers I did at university was sociology, I heard it was easy credits which appealed to my student mentality. In one of our tutorials we were given some coloured pens and paper and were asked to draw a picture of the typical New Zealand man. One girl drew a picture which represented the well dressed, cafe occupying modern man, the rest of us had poorly drawn pictures which all seemed to represent the traditional farming ‘Fred Dagg’ looking character. The girl who had drawn the ‘modern man’ definitely had a better representation of the behaviors of today’s man, but when it comes to health us men still have a lot of the characteristics of the stereotypical black singlet wearing kiwi bloke.
From an early age boys can be taught that they should be strong, not to complain and to ignore pain. This instilled attitude can actually prove to create a lot of health problems for men in the long term. An American study that I read recently stated that in general women are 33% more likely to visit a doctor than men. Although this gap does narrow with age it’s one of the main reasons men die at higher rates than women from things like heart disease, cancer and stroke and subsequently is one of the reasons men have a lower life expectancy. The study summarized with the following: anyone who doesn’t connect with a doctor for screening for major health problems, especially in their younger years, is at greater risk of disease or death.
I know this is all a bit serious but your health is serious stuff. As a society we need to start changing men’s attitude towards their health. The traditional ‘she’ll be right’ thinking is actually making our men at higher risk of major health problems. We need to create social rules that allow, or even encourage young to middle age men to have regular checkups with their medical professionals.
For those men reading this right now who haven’t had a general check up in a while, just book one in. This isn’t weakness or something that is to be frowned upon. It will help you have a better understanding of where you sit with your health, which has to be good for you and your loved ones. Go on, do it. What have you got to lose?
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