In 20 years of being a Family Physician, I’ve recognized some key impacts on the health for modern men. Fellowship, food, and fitness are three pivotal places to focus in order to be healthier. Jesus was a great example of all of these if you consider his meals, mode of travel (walking), and of course his great social interactions. Let’s bring these areas of health impact into 2020. This week's focus is on fellowship.
It's Not the Cholesterol
The first F to think about when we want to be healthy is Fellowship. The longest running health study on humans is being conducted at Harvard and has been going on since 1938. It set out to discover how to predict a person will grow old and healthy. This study group was originally just young men but luckily now includes women, and its message is clear. Cholesterol, blood pressure, and all the current medical data points as of 2019 do not predict if a person will keep his health as he ages.
The result of this study is that people with greater social connections had a 50% reduced risk of dying early! Isn’t it amazing that we haven’t heard about this? This brings me to one of the plagues on the health of modern man. It is doing life alone or in social isolation from our peers. What happens to us when our time is given to our jobs, yards, and our families for the most part? We get overweight, depressed, and anxious, and then get in line for expensive chronic diseases that don’t have many cures.
Men should own the fact that we can’t be healthy in social isolation. We have to do life with friends in order to live well. I don’t mean stale accountability groups, avoiding being alone, or life-sucking surface friendships. I mean scheduled time with fun, rowdy men we enjoy being with is really healthy. Regular social connections like these will motivate, inform, and help us prioritize what little time we have for healthier habits. Don’t get me wrong. Health isn’t our biggest priority. However, it does enable us to serve and love God and our loved ones, so it is right to have it in our top five. If we set out to eat healthy or work out more but go it alone, no one has the strength alone to maintain this.
It is ok to make time for this fellowship. Stop feeling guilty about not being at work or with your family. The time you do have with those higher loyalties will be much sweeter if you have been with your brothers. Don’t make an excuse or put this habit of fellowship off for the future. Your risk of dying early is lessened by greater social connections more than anything else. A great place to start is with a neighbor, coworker, or men’s group at church.
*Next week’s blogpost will focus on food.