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Five Ways to Build Each Other Up

We make decisions that affect our health all day long — when to go to bed, how many drinks to have, whether or not to exercise, and so on. Our choices are often influenced by the people around us. For example, if your partner wants to skip the gym, you might want to follow suit. Think about how much easier it would be to make the healthy decision if the people around you were making that choice, too. When it comes to our health, a little support can go a long way!

It’s Men’s Health Month — the perfect time to team up with a man in your life to make healthy choices together. Grab your partner, roommate, friend, or father and commit to building each other up. So often our health rises and falls with those around us, so try these five tips to help you make smarter choices together:

  • Sync up your workouts. Physical activity has so many health benefits, including improving sleep, reducing stress, and lowering your risk for some serious diseases. It can be easier to stick to your workouts if someone is holding you accountable. You can walk, run, hike, or bike together. If you like different activities, set aside time on both of your calendars so that you do them at the same time. You can even start a friendly competition to see who can log more steps, miles, or minutes. And if you can do some of your workouts together, that can have the additional benefit of togetherness.
  • Cut back on alcohol. You know that if you drink, you should do it in moderation. But did you know that theDietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men? To put that in perspective, a regular bottle of wine has five glasses in it. It can be easy to get carried away, especially if the other person is indulging, so decide to cut back together. Plan for alcohol-free nights and, when you do drink, savor it and sip slowly. It’ll save you a lot of added calories.
  • Say “no” to tobacco — together. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. But there’s no denying that it’s hard work. It’s even tougher for those trying to quit around someone else who smokes. Find your reasons for quitting together, whether it’s wanting to be healthier, saving money, or protecting those around you. Then come up with a plan for quitting. What works for one of you may not work for the other, and that’s okay. The key is to support each other and to hold each other to your shared goal of being smoke-free.
  • Snack smarter. It’s easy to forget about the snack you munch on in front of the TV or the cracker-and-cheese appetizer you eat while making dinner. But those calories add up, and they often don’t offer many nutrients. Come up with ways to snack healthier together. Instead of eating snacks right out of the bag or box, put them in a small bowl. You can also try swapping sugary or salty snacks with healthier, lower calorie options like fruits and vegetables. Cut up your vegetables ahead of time so that they’re ready to go when you need a pick-me-up. Don’t have time to prep? That’s okay — buying a premade vegetable tray is always a good option. Get more healthy eating tips.
  • Talk about your health. Talk openly and honestly about your goals so you can help each other reach them. It’s also important to talk about any health concerns you may have. Encourage the man in your life to take his symptoms seriously and to get regular care — even if he feels fine. If one of you hates going to the doctor, schedule your checkups for the same day and go together. Preventive care helps you stay healthy for the long run and catches problems early when they’re easiest to treat.

These are just a few ways that you and an important man in your life can inspire each other to improve your health together. Start small and set realistic goals. Remember, every day is a new opportunity to make healthier choices than you did the day before, so start today. Team up for a longer, healthier life!

This post originally appeared on the Office on Women’s Health blog.

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Author: Nancy C. Lee, M.D.

Nancy C. Lee, M.D., is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Women’s Health and the Director of the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). At OWH, Dr. Lee oversees a staff of about 30 who work together to accomplish the OWH mission: provide leadership and coordination to improve the health of women and girls through policy, education, and model programs. Dr. Lee also chairs the Coordinating Committee on Women’s Health (CCWH), which was formed in 1984 to advise the Assistant Secretary for Health on activities across HHS that safeguard and improve the physical and mental health of women and girls. The CCWH includes senior‐level representatives from each of the HHS agencies.

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