Men’s Health: Five Community Leaders on Prioritizing Well-Being
Community leaders share their thoughts on the importance of preventive care, well-being, and maintaining collective care for children and communities.
One in five adults have missed or delayed healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, and men are at a higher risk of developing many life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer, HIV, and heart disease. Committing to regular checkups is critical for diagnosing these treatable conditions.
Tom Rosenberg, CEO, American Camp Association; Alex Martinez, project coordinator, National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability/Lakeshore Foundation; Carlos Santini, CEO, Mizzen by Mott; Angel Toscano M.Ed, project specialist, Austin Independent School District; and Cort Jones, communications manager, National Recreation and Park Association, share their thoughts on the importance of preventive care, well-being, and maintaining collective care for children and communities.
Q: Why is it important for men to prioritize routine checkups?
Tom: Routine checkups allow you to catch conditions early and treat them more easily. Spending time with my primary care doctor once or twice a year helps me improve my exercise, eat healthier, and will hopefully help me increase my lifespan and quality of life as I age.
Alex: I believe in preventive care because it provides a higher level of success in treating and eliminating health problems. Taking care of health issues also improves quality of life and reduces complications.
Carlos: This should be a fundamental element of living a healthy life for anyone – regardless of gender. Many of my peers grew up with this unwritten rule that men did not proactively schedule health checkups. Because of this, it’s important for more and more men to break this lack-of-care cycle.
Angel: It’s important to be able to take care of my family for as long as possible. Routine checkups help me understand what is going on with my body. This also gives me an understanding on how my body works and how to continue maintaining my health.
Cort: It’s important to prioritize routine checkups because you don’t know what you don’t know. For me, routine checkups ensure I can identify any potential health risks I may have, make informed lifestyle decisions, and plan for the future.
Q: What do you do personally to take care of your well-being?
Tom: It’s a constant effort to exercise every day, to be more mindful, breathe deeply, and spend time with family and friends. No matter what life throws at you, strive to find time to just be you and live more fully. It’s easy to say and often hard to do. Keep trying and never give up.
Alex: Physical fitness is something that I’ve always done to promote health. From an early age, I’ve participated in sports, exercise, and recreation as part of my journey to health and wellness. Over the years, I’ve modified my physical activities to better fit my abilities and lifestyle. For example, I used to run and play high-impact sports such as volleyball regularly. I have substituted those activities with sports such as cycling.
Another area of well-being that I am focused on is work-life balance and mindfulness. My family and I have started to camp more often, and it has become one of our favorite activities to connect with nature.
Carlos: I first start with the basics, which are exercise, nutrition, sleep, and investing in keeping up relationships. I think we need to prioritize wellness as part of our definition of success. One of my biggest realizations was that friendships is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. One needs close relationships where you can decompress, confide in, and have a nice time enjoying life. Loneliness can really cut away at our overall health.
Angel: After having two kids, I’ve learned that taking care of myself can sometimes be difficult. I make sure to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps each day, drink plenty of water throughout the day, sleep as much as possible at night, make most of my meals and snacks at home, and do my best to catch a workout when I can. The more this happens, the better I feel.
Cort: I’m mindful of my outdoor time vs. screen time ratio. I work from home, which has its advantages, but I’m susceptible to overworking and burnout. Making time to step away from the computer or my phone and take a walk in my neighborhood is one of the best things I do for my overall well-being. Even 15 minutes outside does wonders for my mental health. It helps me feel grounded, puts things into perspective, and relieves stress. I also make sure I drink plenty of water, eat healthy foods, and practice kindness with myself and others.
Q: How can caregivers and educators benefit from taking steps to commit to better health?
Tom: We can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves. Keep practicing mindfulness by focusing on being aware without being too hard on yourself. This helps us create a more calm, relaxed, yet engaging environment in which to lead or teach. It can also help you make space for a healthier lifestyle with boundaries and goal setting.
Carlos: The best ideas and innovations come from having a clear mind. A clear mind comes from a healthy body. A healthy body and a clear mind allow adults to be consistently present in mind, body and soul for students over a much longer period of time. The more of us they have, the greater the impact at the end of the day.
Angel: When I’m taking care of my health, I have more energy and excitement when working with my students. Caregivers will be in a better mood in front of their students if they commit to better health. I also find that I’m more creative when putting together activities for my students.
Cort: The saying “to take care of others, you must take care of yourself” is so true. If I’m going to be a positive role model for youth in my community, and provide opportunities for them to thrive, I must take care of myself. Healthy communities are made up of healthy individuals!
Q: What role does individual health play in creating healthy environments where youth can thrive? Any advice for maintaining collective care in communities?
Tom: We’re all serving as role models for the children and youth in our communities. When we outwardly make good choices about good nutrition, regular exercise, and preventive care, we show a path forward to a healthier life. Similarly, when we put down our phones, turn off our computers, and get outside to enjoy positive experiences with friends, we improve our well-being and outlook on life. A critical component of a healthy and happy lifestyle is fully engaging in a healthy community, contributing to the welfare of others, and making a positive difference.
Alex: Communities can thrive depending on how well we are doing our individual roles. For example, my role within the community is to be an advocate for inclusion in public health. By practicing healthy behaviors, I’m hopefully setting an example and empowering youth to engage in similar behaviors to achieve wellness.
Carlos: Being an educator is really being a model for youth. Staff used to have this saying during my early years in afterschool education: “You need to live it and breathe it.”
Angel: If you’re committed to better health, it will also create buy-in with your students when teaching them how to create healthier communities. If students can see how their educator is thriving, they will be eager to cultivate healthy habits within their communities.
Cort: It’s a challenging time in the world right now, with layers of tragedy, hate, racism, environmental anxiety, and many other stressors. Continue to seek out the good and always remember to practice compassion with yourself. It’s not always easy, but your health and well-being are totally worth it.
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