Can We Talk?

Self-Care for Men While COVID-19 Lurks for Us

Even if you missed the email, it’s not too late. June is Men’s Health Month, so we’re doing our part with the OAC to focus on what this really means. After all, men indeed have a lot to think about while COVID-19 lurks for us all. If you’re male and you get this nasty virus, the odds for a bad outcome are worse. If you’re older and you’re carrying a too much adipose tissue in the wrong places, you’ve scored the triple crown. Maleness, higher age, and obesity add up to more risk of a bad outcome when a person tangles with the new coronavirus.

Why Us?

Men aren’t supposed to whine about misfortune, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Why are men getting a raw deal in the coronavirus pandemic? Is it behavioral or is it biological?

Of course, it’s easy to spot bad behaviors. There’s a certain male living on Pennsylvania Avenue who refuses to wear a mask and he gets a lot of grief for that. But he’s not alone in this. Polling has shown pretty consistently that women are more conscientious about wearing masks than men. For that matter, women are more conscientious about self-care generally. That’s why Google can serve up 50 percent more results if you search for “women’s health” than for “men’s health.” Google Trends reports more than twice as many searches for women’s health as for men’s.

But the risk for bad outcomes with COVID-19 for men likely has a lot to do with biology. Men are more likely to be hospitalized and die if they get the virus. In some studies, the risks for men are twice what they are for women. Sabra Klein of Johns Hopkins explains:

Because these findings are cutting across social and cultural boundaries, that strongly suggests the biological difference between males and females is contributing. That likely doesn’t tell the full story, however – social and lifestyle factors may certainly be influencing the trends, but we need to understand more.

So what?

The question that follows is pretty obvious – what’s a guy supposed to do about it? The answer might be just as obvious. Practice the best self-care you can. And that’s pretty simple. Avoid crowds and close contact with other people. Keep your hands clean. And for goodness’ sake, wear a mask when you’re out in public. It slows the spread and it protects everyone – including you.

Beyond those simple measure to reduce the spread of the virus, there’s lots men can do to care for themselves while COVID-19 lurks. The basics are simple: sleep well, eat healthy, and stay active. Volumes are written on each of these subjects and that’s because they have a big impact on your health. And while you’re at it, stay up to date with preventive visits with your primary care provider. The pandemic is no excuse for falling behind.

Good health is the best asset you can have if you wind up tangling with this nasty virus.

Click here for a basic guide to self-care for men and here for even more resources from OAC. For insights on the stories men tell about weight and health, click here.

Can We Talk? photograph © Obesity Action Coalition / OAC Image Gallery

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June 25, 2020