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Changing the focus for balanced men’s health

Last Modified: June 18, 2024

Family Medicine

mens health

This post was written by Abigail Masters, NP, PPG – Family Medicine.

It can be difficult to pin down a clear definition of health. Everyone has different ideas about what it looks like for them and others. The Oxford Dictionary defines health as, “being free from illness or injury.” I would argue that it’s much more complex. It’s not just preventing or managing disease; it’s also about being physically and mentally able to fulfill your goals. Under the umbrella of health, there are three categories–physical, mental and spiritual health–and if one of those gets out of balance, they all do. In this post, I’m going to focus on the interactions of physical and mental health as they pertain to the male population.

All the noise

When something is off with our bodies, it can have serious implications for our mental well-being, and vice versa. Once one area of our health is derailed, it’s very easy to feel paralyzed or overwhelmed about what to do next.  

This becomes more confusing when we factor in the ease and amount of information at our fingertips. The internet and social media are flooded with supplements, drugs, quick fixes and popular opinions popping up as ads, clogging our feeds and infiltrating our thoughts. Individuals spend a significant amount of money on supplements that are hailed as a way to increase testosterone, lose weight or raise energy. The scary thing is that many of these products are not FDA-approved. Research has shown that a good number of them contain fillers in addition to active ingredients. In truth, consumers really don’t know what they’re getting!

The big takeaway here is, don’t spend a lot of money on or start a medication or supplement without first consulting your primary care provider.


We are inundated with messages that push men to be better, faster, able to perform and outperform. These campaigns are so effective that people are willing to pay a large amount for products that have very little unbiased research around their safety and efficacy, and a lack of evidence that they will produce the desired result.

But more than the financial cost, we have to stop and consider the emotional cost. What happens if you don’t become better or faster? If you don’t outperform the man next to you? Those with a competitive streak might be willing to risk everything to be a good “provider” or stay “manly,” rather than be perceived as lazy or unambitious. Living under the pressure of pervasive assumptions like these comes at a significant detriment to the physical and mental health of men.


Overall, men have a higher risk of suicide but are diagnosed with mental illness much less when compared to women. They have a higher risk of hypertension, risky behavior and have a lower life expectancy than women.

Some of these risk factors are modifiable, meaning the person has some degree of control over the behavior; others can be tied to genetics or age-related changes.

One common concern for men as they age is testosterone levels. These levels naturally decrease as men age to a certain extent. There are pathologies where men are not able to make testosterone and supplemental therapy is needed. Much more commonly, however, we see that the American lifestyle and perception of mental health play a large part in the symptoms of low testosterone.

Obesity and insulin resistance can both affect testosterone production. Depression and anxiety can hinder sexual drive and function, as can energy, motivation, attention and memory. Intake of media and pornography can both impact mental health and sex drive.

Time for a change

The American view of the stereotypical man as always busy, successful, the breadwinner and hypermasculine only adds to the degree of stress and anxiety experienced by the male population. Depending on how the individual copes with those stresses and societal expectations, their physical and mental well-being can be significantly impacted by their ability to meet expectations.

There needs to be a shift in the perception and health of men. Paramount to this change, we must encourage men to seek help for mental illness and concerns, so that they can get the proper therapy and counseling. Seeking mental healthcare doesn’t make a man weak. It doesn’t mean he can’t be successful or handle his issues. Lives can be saved just by dismantling this stigma.

Medication can be helpful, as one part of a treatment plan, paired with lifestyle changes such as:

  • Limiting or abolishing media consumption (pornography, social media, gaming)
  • Increasing exercise (increases healthy hormones and is a natural way to fight depression and anxiety)
  • Consistent mental health practices (counseling, meditation, taking time off, being present with family)
  • Consistent sleep habits (limited caffeine, same bed and wake times, stretching prior to bed)

How to take control

Focusing on long-term goals and satisfaction instead of instantaneous consumption is vital for men’s health, and the health of all citizens of the U.S. We have to change the emphasis on career and performance expectations and embrace mental healthcare and more movement. If there’s a man in your life seeking help for their emotional or physical well-being, show your support for their efforts. Together, we can change the narrative.

Men can take an active role in their health by:

  • Engaging in healthy habits like consuming a diet high in colorful vegetables and plants
  • Decreasing processed foods
  • Exercising for at least 150 minutes a week
  • Engaging in mental healthcare and self-care
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene

These changes can start with setting small, highly achievable goals, and then increasing them slowly, over time.  Even exercising for five minutes a day can greatly impact your health. If you are not eating any vegetables, start with one serving a day and gradually add in more.  

A lifestyle medicine doctor once told me, “If the goal is daily flossing your teeth, start with flossing one tooth.” The movement toward a more holistic view of men’s health starts there. Finding balance in mental health, diet and exercise can decrease the effects of symptoms like fatigue, motivation, inflammation in the body, stalled weight loss and body pain, and reduce the risk of conditions like heart attacks and strokes, low sexual function, obesity and diabetes.

If you are struggling to make healthy changes in your life or would like more information on how to get started, contact your primary care provider. If you do not have a provider, call Parkview’s 24/7 access line at 877-PPG-TODAY or visit


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