As a wife, you probably serve as the “health coordinator” for your family. You undoubtedly know the ins and outs of dealing with doctor’s offices and insurance companies. You probably keep up with the latest health information. And chances are you oversee areas of your family’s life that play significant roles in maintaining good health.
So you’re positioned better than anyone to help your husband maximize things that can benefit his health and minimize things that can harm it. And today, I want to share four areas you can influence to help your husband stay healthy and take care of his health.
First, though, let’s talk for minute about that last phrase – help your husband take care of his health. Your husband is an adult, and he’s responsible for taking care of the body God gave him. He isn’t a child, and I encourage you not to treat him like one. Share information with him, make suggestions, and offer to help.
But don’t treat him like a 9-year-old who doesn’t want to take his medicine or go to the doctor. (Except, of course, in the case of very serious symptoms or emergencies.) Encourage him and pray for him, but let him be a man who makes his own decisions, even if you don’t agree with them.
Here are four areas you can influence to help your husband maintain good health:
• Exercise – If you do only one thing for your husband’s health, let it be this – encourage him to exercise regularly. Exercise does things for men that nothing else can do. It helps them control their blood pressure, blood sugar and weight. It reduces their risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. It helps them maintain muscle mass, testosterone, strength and vitality. It’s the strongest and most powerful “medicine” available, but it costs almost nothing and is available to everyone.
So encourage your husband to exercise regularly. He can join a gym, work out at home, walk, jog, bike, play basketball, play soccer – any activity or combination of activities he enjoys and can do regularly. Then, make sure he has time to do it. Arrange your family’s schedule so that exercise can become a priority, and encourage him to make time to do it regularly. (By the way, women need regular exercise too.) (Additional resources – 10 Benefits of Regular Exercise for Men, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans)
• Diet – If you do most of the food shopping and cooking for your family, you can help your husband stay healthy by managing the food your family eats. The diet of
most families doesn’t promote good health; in fact, it contributes to poor health. Fast foods, highly processed foods and foods high in sugar, salt and trans-fat contribute to all of the diseases that are slowing us down and making us sick us.
So take charge of your family’s diet in ways that will benefit your husband’s health. Increase the number of fruits and vegetables you serve. Increase whole grain foods, lean meat, nuts and olive oil. Decrease processed foods and fast food meals. Decrease high-sodium and high-sugar foods. Be sure to respect your husband’s food preferences, and don’t tell him what he can and can’t eat. Just make small healthy changes over time that will pay off for him and everyone in the family. (Additional resources – Juggling Real Food and Real Life, Healthy Eating 101)
Stress – Husbands feel a lot of stress, but they usually don’t talk about it. Instead, they tend to suck it up and keep going. The problem with that approach is that it eventually takes its toll on a man’s physical and mental health. Over time, unrelieved stress can lead to an increase in colds and flu, headaches, insomnia, depression, and high blood pressure. It also can increase his risk of heart attack, stroke and even cancer.
So help your husband keep his stress under control. Encourage him to talk about the stresses he’s facing. Look at your family’s schedule and find ways to slow things down. Encourage him to get enough sleep (at least 7 hours), to exercise (a great stress reducer!) and to enjoy a hobby. And invest in your sex life. Sex is a great stress reducer for men and women, and regular sex promotes the kind of intimacy and connection that staves off the effects of stress for both of you. (Additional resource – Men and Stress – WebMD)
Medical Care – Although prevention is the key to health, every man needs good medical care too. But most men don’t like going to the doctor, and they tend to avoid it unless they’re sick. For that reason, they may miss out on important tests or end up waiting too long to get treatment when they need it. To ensure that your husband has access to both, encourage him to find a doctor he likes before he really needs one.
Then suggest that he make an appointment for a routine check-up and tests. That way, he’ll be established with a doctor he knows when he needs to be seen for an illness or injury. If he’s willing to do that but wants some help moving forward on it, lend a hand. Do some research to identify good doctors, make some calls to check on insurance coverage and other financial information, and set up an appointment that works with his schedule. Offer to go with him if he wants you to, but let him go alone if he prefers.
If you can encourage your husband in these areas, you’ll help him live better right now and increase the likelihood that the two of you will stay healthy and grow old together in the future.
(This article first appeared as a guest post at The Generous Wife.)