Shawn Britton reflects on the importance of men’s health

Shawn Britton

Shawn Britton is on a mission to encourage employees, especially men, to make health a priority.

interview by Carole Johnson, university news and communications

He runs, works out, eats well and is part of Miami’s Benefits & Wellness Team, but Shawn Britton admits he didn’t know about his high blood pressure until he participated in Miami’s Healthy Miami Premium Discount Program.

“I felt fine ... I had no symptoms. I didn’t expect any of my biometric screening numbers to come in high. But I learned that feeling okay may not tell the whole story; your numbers are important, too.

Britton has a family history of strokes and heart attacks, but it didn’t occur to him to keep watch. He was surprised when the numbers were high. Since this finding, Shawn has been able to work with his primary care doctor to make some changes and get his blood pressure into a normal range.

“I watch the amount of salt in my food and take a low dose blood pressure medication,” he said.

He wants to tell his story to as many people as he can.

"I want people, especially men, to make health a priority."

Q: Why is this message important to men specifically?

A: I notice sometimes there is a lack of awareness among men in regards to general health, as well as a lack of priority. Things left unchecked can creep up and lead to more serious issues, like a stroke. The Healthy Miami Premium Discount Program forced me to check my numbers and think about my health. I want Miami male employees to know that taking time for your health is worthwhile and can save your life.

Q: How do you help Miami employees (men and women) get healthy or maintain health?

A: I coordinate the large-scale wellness events at Miami, such as Team Miami. That’s my baby because I love to run. I also oversee Fitness for Life classes, Freedom from Smoking sessions and CPR training.  (Program details can be found online.) Another program I oversee is the blood pressure screenings — very important to me for obvious reasons. We offer free screenings during fall and spring semesters. They are not a replacement for a physician visit, but they can help employees monitor their numbers.

Q: What’s trending now in men’s health and fitness?

A: Yoga. We see more and more males taking yoga classes at Miami. It’s great to see men leaving their comfort zones to try different forms of fitness. Lifting weights is still number one, though. I’m also happy to say that blood pressure screenings are growing on campus in numbers, especially in the physical facilities department. They are all very competitive and vie for who has the lowest readings.

Q: How did you become interested in working in health education?

A: I’m a 2004 Miami graduate. I studied health promotion and health education. I started at Miami in the recreational center.  My dad actually was the reason I got into the field. He’s a Miami retiree — Tom Britton — known for his running. We formed a close relationship through running and bike riding. I consider Miami truly my family. I’ve grown up here. The people here are more than just coworkers. It gives me a bit more of a purpose for what I do.