By Scott Prater
As June is National Men’s Health Month, Airmen, civilians and contractors are highly encouraged to educate themselves on healthy living.
Schriever Health and Wellness Center director Ken Lucero said the awareness campaign provides a perfect opportunity to educate the male population about the benefits of health screenings, proper nutrition and fitness.
“Oftentimes, men don’t think about getting checked out for possible skin, prostate and colon cancer, but we’ve seen some examples here of how those tests save lives,” Lucero said. “With cancer, early detection is often the key to a successful recovery and many times, cancer victims show no outward symptoms.”
Airmen are likely to be in better shape than average U.S. citizens thanks to Air Force standards and requirements, however, Lucero stressed that it’s easy to confuse fitness with health.
“Fortunately, Airmen get their annual preventive health assessment, or health screenings,” he said. “They measure a lot of critical areas of health and are age appropriate, so they change accordingly. The whole goal for the Air Force is readiness. The PHAs help Airmen be health ready.”
On the contrary, civilians and contractors aren’t required to take annual health test or dental screenings. Thus, Lucero recommended they be more diligent with their health assessments, especially as they age.
Aging can play havoc with men’s health, even for those who believe they are still young, according to Seth Cannello, Schriever sports and fitness director.
“When you’re younger and get a moderate amount of activity, your metabolism is generally high enough to allow you to eat poorly,” he said. “However, as you get older, poor nutrition has a way of catching up to you.”
Cannello recommended men seek out information on proper nutrition and refine their diets to an age appropriate level. Lucero added that men should stick to consuming lean meat cuts. He said recent research shows that eating processed meats can raise men’s cancer risk by as much as 40 percent and lead to a higher risk for diabetes.
As for exercise, Cannello advocates a balanced program of cardiovascular conditioning, strength and flexibility training and increased agility exercises as a means for improving balance.
“Swimming can be a great alternative to running for men with joint issues and it provides a good change of pace for those looking for something new,” he said. “Hiking can be another alternate exercise. It’s different from walking; people should make sure to hike at a pace that will elevate their heart rate to improve their fitness level.”
Hiking has become the newest HAWC emphasis. Lucero started a HAWC hike campaign a few months ago with the goal of increasing difficulty each month.
Lucero hopes everyone who has continued to join the HAWC monthly hike will summit Pikes Peak in September.
“The hikes serve a valuable purpose,” he said. “They provide great exercise and they introduce participants to new areas of Colorado Springs. That’s one of the things I’ve noticed in the classes I teach at the HAWC. Most of the Airmen at Schriever aren’t from here and they have no idea they’re working and living in this amazing playground that is Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs.
The Schriever HAWC maintains a list of local websites and organizations that host fitness events and Airmen and civilians can enter and compete at their own level. Visit the HAWC or call 567-4292 for more information.