Did you know that on average, the life expectancy for men is less than women? This is partially to do with the fact that men are far less likely to visit their doctors for annual check-ups, take note of signs and symptoms of serious disease, and maintain a healthy lifestyle compared to women. It may be true that many men subscribe to the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Fortunately, attitudes are changing and men are realizing that they have to be proactive with regard to their health. With that being said, the top 10 health tips for men (no matter your age) have been compiled below:
Eat a well-balanced diet
Highly processed foods, including white flour and white sugar, should be eliminated or at least minimized in the diet. These foods have minimal nutritive value, as vitamins, minerals, and fiber have been stripped away. Accordingly, they contribute to weight gain and chronic diseases that are major causes of death. In addition, fat intake should be judicious, as some forms can contribute to heart disease. Instead, concentrate on eating an array of colorful, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables along with whole grains and healthy fats (e.g., olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids). These measures can not only help men attain an optimal weight but also protect against heart disease and other chronic health problems.
Most authorities recommend a goal of 30 minutes of exercise daily, which has been shown to improve health. The good news is that the physical activity doesn’t have to be continuous. It can be achieved intermittently in 5 to 10 minutes bursts throughout the day. It can also take various forms such as walking, biking, swimming, jogging, and even gardening or mowing your lawn. You should avoid being a “weekend warrior,” as it increases your chances of injury. Also, don’t forget to incorporate weight training (at least 2 times per week) into your routine to maximize the results of your exercise program.
Drink moderate amounts of alcohol
Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, no matter what kind, not only protects against heart disease but also lowers risk of death from all causes. If you drink alcohol, limit your intake to no more than two drinks per day. As a reference, a standard drink equals one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 8-ounce glass of malt liquor, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Keep in mind that your drinks should be staggered throughout the week and not consumed all at once, as many men fall into the trap of binge drinking and don’t realize its long-term effects. After all, while one to two drinks a day are okay, excessive alcohol consumption can be adverse to your health.
Abstain from tobacco use
Whether you smoke cigarettes, vape, or chew tobacco, you are putting your health at risk. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals and is a known cause of cancer (carcinogen). Smoking also increases the likelihood of chronic health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and lung disease. Chewing tobacco is not any safer, as it is still a carcinogen and also contributes to gum disease and tooth loss. Tobacco can even contribute to poor mental health. As a result, discontinuing tobacco use can be one of the single most effective ways to improve your health. Also, don’t forget to limit your exposure to secondhand smoke (also known as passive smoking), as it too can increase your chances of developing chronic health problems.
Pay attention to your prostate
In the majority of men, the prostate begins to grow larger after the age of 40. This growth spurt can lead to bothersome symptoms, such as frequent nighttime urination and a weak urine stream, which are indicative of a condition referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia (an “enlarged prostate”). Fortunately, there are measures with the potential to prevent or reverse this benign (noncancerous) disease, such as supplementing with the herbs saw palmetto and/or pygeum. Additionally, advancing age is a risk factor for prostate cancer. You may be able to decrease your risk of prostate cancer by consuming foods that are protective of the prostate, such as soy, green tea, and tomatoes. Soy contains isoflavones, green tea contains polyphenols, and tomatoes contain lycopene, all of which have anti-cancer properties. Additionally, supplementation with the antioxidants selenium and vitamin E may also decrease your chances of developing prostate cancer.
Get into the habit of visiting your doctor for yearly preventative health exams
It is no secret that men are far less likely to visit their doctors for preventative health exams. A way to combat this is by choosing a doctor that you are comfortable with and trust, as this is conducive to open discussions about all aspects of your health, including mental and sexual wellness. You should keep track of your numbers—weight, body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, and cholesterol (including total cholesterol, triglycerides, “bad” cholesterol [LDL], and “good” cholesterol [HDL]). It is important to undergo recommended health screenings, including those for vision and hearing, depression, diabetes, and skin, prostate, and colon cancers. The preventative health exam also provides an opportunity to update vaccinations, such as the flu, meningitis, pneumonia, tetanus, and others. In short, regular, yearly checkups have the potential to save your life.
Take your mental health seriously
Your mental health is inseparable from your physical health. It is estimated that upwards of 6 million men report struggling with depression, while over 3 million men report struggling with anxiety. Accordingly, mental health is crucially important, but many men, due to the associated stigma, are afraid to discuss their emotional well-being. As a result, they may cope by drinking excessively, overeating, becoming aggressive, or engaging in risky behaviors. It is important to reach out and seek evaluation if you are experiencing symptoms such as low mood, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, etc.
Sleep deprivation is extremely common in today’s on-the-go society. But, did you know that sleep deprivation can be detrimental to your health? It can increase your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and other chronic health problems. It can even increase the likelihood of accidents, one of the leading causes of death. Adequate rest is one of the easiest ways to improve your health. Sleep requirements vary with age and from person to person, but most men need between 7 and 9 hours a night. The benefits of adequate sleep include increased energy, sharper mental focus, improved mental health, and boosted immunity.
Maintain close relationships with family and friends
Unfortunately, women seem to be better at maintaining close relationships than men. As a result, men should strive to strengthen bonds with their family and friends. Engage in volunteer work, religious/church groups, hobbies, or any other activity that gets you involved socially with others. Additionally, consider adopting a pet or having a weekly meal or coffee with others in an effort to establish stronger bonds. The payoff from maintaining close ties to others includes reduced stress levels and enhanced mental, as well as overall, health.
Stress can be a major factor in the development of acute and chronic health problems. Many men juggle a variety of roles—employer/employee, son, father, husband, etc. These roles can be a significant source of stress. As a result, men oftentimes succumb to the pressure and overextend themselves, which can lead to sleep deprivation, lack of exercise, and a shortage of personal time. All of this is a recipe for disaster, as the accumulated stress can take a physical as well as psychological toll. This is why it is vital that men learn to set aside/schedule some personal time for themselves each day, even if it’s only 30 minutes. Those 30 minutes have the potential to physically and emotionally renew, which could tremendously enhance health and well-being.
The above tips have the potential to provide a framework for the adoption of long-lasting habits that should culminate in an enhanced sense of health and well-being. All you have to do is become proactive in your health.