Everyone knows the importance of a healthy lifestyle. However, a busy schedule may prevent regular exercise, and you may develop a routine of eating junk foods. You can’t afford to be passive about your health. Take a proactive approach with these simple steps.
Visit the Doctor
Men are notorious for avoiding the doctor and ignoring unusual symptoms. This may in part explain why women live an average of five years longer than men. It’s important for men to be vigilant about their health. Schedule yearly checkups and keep these appointments. Your doctor can monitor your blood pressure, and can also check for an elevated level of fat and cholesterol in the blood (dyslipidemia). Both are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. If you find you need an extra push, ask your family to hold you accountable. It’s in your best interest and theirs.
Eat Natural Foods
Packaged and processed foods are often full of sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, artificial additives, and calories. Avoid the fake stuff, and opt for:
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- fiber-rich foods, such as beans and leafy greens
- fresh fish
- lean cuts of meat and poultry
When shopping for groceries, shop the perimeter of the store. This is where you will find the fresh foods. You should avoid the inside aisles for the most part, as this is where most of the boxed and processed foods are located.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in American men. Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease and keep your ticker strong. Aim for 30 minutes of movement at least five days a week. Aerobic exercise — including walking, jogging, swimming, or sports such as tennis or basketball — is good. Combining aerobic exercise with weight training is even better.
Maintain a Healthy Waist
To determine if your health is at risk, measure your waist. A waist measurement that is more than 40 inches could be cause for concern, according to WakeMed Health and Hospitals. Men with large waists are at an increased risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and other health issues.
Get Your Vitamins
A daily multivitamin will help ensure your body gets what it needs to function properly.
Eating whole, vitamin-rich foods serves up extra benefits like plenty of healthy fiber, minerals, and natural antioxidant compounds. Pack your meals with vitamin-rich foods, but keep taking the multivitamin. You may also need to supplement with fish oil for adequate omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D3. Many studies suggest that most Americans get too few of these essential nutrients.
Avoid Unhealthy Habits
We are stating the obvious here, but smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your health. It’s also important to steer clear of people who are actively smoking. Secondhand smoke is also very dangerous. Nearly 3,000 non-smoking Americans die from lung cancer every year, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Smoking causes other health conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and heart disease. It also contributes to the development of cancer in virtually every organ.
Other health-damaging behaviors include excessive alcohol consumption and recreational or habitual drug use. If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation. For men, that is no more than two drinks per day, meaning 24 ounces of beer, 10 ounces of wine, or 3 ounces of spirits. Two glasses of wine a day may even lower your risk of heart disease. Doctors do not recommend substituting drinking for healthier activities, such as exercise. Cocaine use can cause heart attacks and strokes, while addictive drugs like opiates lead to many negative health behaviors.
Some men use anabolic steroids to increase their muscle mass. This can lead to serious health consequences. Possible outcomes include sterility, heart disease, skin disease, and behavioral problems. Injection drugs of all sorts can lead to serious infections and skin breakdown at the site of injection.
Protect Your Skin
Melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), Caucasians and men over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for developing melanoma. Also, the number of men dying from malignant melanoma has doubled in the past 30 years. This increase is believed to be due to decades of working or playing in the sun without sunscreen or other protective measures. Ironically, it may also be due to declining levels of the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D. When outside, use sunscreen and reapply every two hours. Conduct a monthly skin check, looking for new or unusual moles and changes in existing moles. Use a mirror to help see places you cannot readily view. Visit a dermatologist once a year for a full body skin check.
Get Your Prostate Checked
Prostate cancer is the top cancer diagnosis for American men. Talk to your doctor about prostate screening tests. These include the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test for prostate cancer and the digital rectal exam (DRE), which is used to check for an enlarged prostate.
Not all doctors advise annual screenings, but depending on individual risk factors, yours may suggest one or more of these tests to catch potential problems before they seriously threaten your health.
Check for Colorectal Cancer
Colon cancer is the third most common type of non-skin cancer in men, according to the National Cancer Institute. It’s important to begin screening for colorectal cancer starting at the age of 50. A colonoscopy can check for cancer cells in the colon and non-cancerous growths (polyps), which can develop into cancer at a later time.