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Countless studies have validated the worry of women everywhere that men are less likely to seek preventative health care. Less likely to shift towards healthier behaviour and more likely to brush off their health concerns until they are ill.

A 2011 survey found that only 40% of men go for regular check ups to their doctor preferring to clean the bathroom and kitchen floors then see their physician.

But as much as we men hate asking for help our health we could really use it. Well over half of Canadian men are overweight or obese and 44% are not even moderately active, according to statistics Canada. Feeling constrained by their belts they rather let it all hang out below their waist line.

There is a price for men neglecting their health. One in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, yet few will get the easy and preventive digital exam to detect the onset of Cancer. One in 10 have symptoms of mental-health disorders or substance dependencies. One in five is pre-diabetic leading to the onset of early heart disease, strokes and sometimes premature death.

The common reason for ignoring our health includes embarrassment, denial and a sense of immunity, difficulty relinquishing control and not setting aside the time to be proactive about our health.

We all shake our heads in disbelieve when we hear of a friend/relative who is stricken with the dreaded Alzheimer life ending disease. The banner headline, "Exercise shown to lower Alzheimer’s risk" should be a wake up call for all of us. Alzheimer’s, a progressive and irreversible degenerative brain condition, has very few effective treatment options. A new U.S. study over a 17 year period of 150,000 participants in the National Runner’s and Walkers’ shows: " that regular exercise lowers the risk of dying from Alzheimer’s by as much as 40%- an indication that the disease’s progression is not unchangeable. Currently doctors do not screen for the disease because of the belief that nothing can be done for those at risk", says Dr Paul Williams of the Berkeley National Laboratory in California, the author of the study. "However our results add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that people can be proactive in lowering Alzheimer’s disease risks."The stats show us that those who exercised the most had the lowest probability of dying. One in seven cases of the disease could be prevented if everyone simply met the minimum guidelines of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise."

My role model for good mental and physical health is my swimming partner, Fred Barber. He is a very fit 87 year old ( young man) who you can see churning up the pool at the downtown YMCA six days a week in the early morning hours. A smile on his face and a greeting for all that; " the water is super" while he chases down the young female swimmers laughing that they are truly too old for him.

We men need to learn to prioritize our needs making sure to take good care of our health which in my opinion is our more important then our wealth. A young man sacrifices his health for money and a middle aged executive would gladly spend all of his wealth to regain his health but it too often too little and too late.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com