by Shannon Ponder

To be an Arkansan is to love the hunt – the duck hunt, that is. It’s no secret that the Natural State’s natives have a heightened sense of passion for the sport. Combining that passion with improving men’s health is a challenge local enthusiasts accepted with the first annual Arkansas Duck Derby, an event benefiting the initiative to enlighten and commission men to take control of their health.

On average, men visit the doctor less regularly than women do. It should come as no surprise, then, that American men live sicker and die younger than American women. Dr. David Gremillion of Men’s Health Network coins this fact as the “silent health crisis in America.” Awareness must be raised to address the nationwide contrast between men and women’s quality of health – and life, as men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women. That’s right: physical and mental wellness do, in fact, go hand-in-hand.

Lack of knowledge regarding associated risks for men, and those risks based on race, age, and family history, is a key contributor to the disconnect in qualities of health. For example, men’s personal risk factors may determine whether or not bone density screening should be included in wellness visits. African American men should begin annual prostate cancer screenings five years earlier than others. Men who have quit smoking should begin lung cancer screenings at the same age as current smokers, regardless of how much time has passed since breaking the habit. Education and empowerment is crucial in narrowing the gap between American men and women’s overall health. The Men’s Health Initiative strives to do exactly that.

5 Tips for Improving Your Health

Visit your doctor. Annual wellness visits can help pinpoint potential risks of cardiovascular disease and other health concerns. Routine exams could be the reason an underlying condition is identified in time to properly treat it.

Maintain a healthy waist. A waist circumference exceeding 40 inches can increase your risk of obesity-related diseases. Lowering your calorie intake and raising exercise frequency will aid in preserving a healthy waistline.

Kick the bad habits. It’s no secret that smoking exposes you to a plethora of health risks, including emphysema, COPD, and heart disease. Excessive alcohol consumption and recreational drug use can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other dangerous conditions. Your doctor can help develop a plan to quit the unhealthy habits for good.

Get moving. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease. Start with thirty minutes of heart-pumping physical fitness five days a week and work up to adding strength training to two of those days.

Eat natural foods. When grocery shopping, stick primarily to the outer perimeter of the store. This is where you’ll find fresh produce, whole foods, and unprocessed items.

The third annual Arkansas Duck Derby kicks off on Thursday, January 7, 2021, with a pre-hunt banquet, live and silent auctions, raffles, food, entertainment and much more. The community is invited to attend regardless of whether or not individuals are participating in the next day’s festivities. The games begin Friday morning with the much-anticipated competitive hunt, winners of which will receive 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes. Proceeds from the annual event will benefit Conway Regional’s Men’s Health Initiative, but that isn’t the only way to contribute to this vital program.