Health Matters

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Men's Health: Keeping Ahead of Health Problems

The week leading up to Father's Day is Men's Health Week in Illinois. It's a time for men and their families to learn about healthy living.

The first step on that path? Prevention.

Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are among the top 10 killers of men in the United States. These can be treated or at least managed, but to do that, you need to get to a doctor first.

"It's harder to get men into the physician," said Dr. Michael Nenaber of St. John's Hospital.

Nenaber said men tend to stay away from the doctor until they have problems, when they should have just come in for a check up.

"So start that process. If you can change your health, you can change the direction your disease may progress by doing that now and be aware of it," he said.

Men can do plenty on their own to stay healthy, like eating right and getting regular exercise.

"Exercise is an outstanding medicine," Nenaber said. "It does so many things for the body."

And if you're worried about starting up, don't be.

"Especially when you're just starting out, you don't have to do anything too drastic or crazy, just get up and get moving," said Mike Purdy, a personal trainer at Fit Club South. "That's the best thing you can do."

It's worked thus far for Jerry Compton, who only recently hit the weights at Fit Club.

"I wanted to lose the belly and get in shape," Compton said in between sets, patting the belly that's 17 pounds lighter since he started a month ago.

Exercise will only get you so far. Men in their 40's should still get a check up every other year, and annually after 50.

"Some of it may be macho-ness," said Nenaber, speculating on why men don't visit the doctor more often. "Some of it may be, I think, is out of fear...If you don't know it, it ain't going to be there."

It's not something men like to talk about, but as you get older, men should also ask their doctors about prostate exams and colonoscopy procedures. Though many men cringe at the thought of them, these exams can catch illnesses that are much worse.Men's Health: Keeping Ahead of Health Problems

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