Between work, family and personal priorities, a man’s health can sometimes take a back seat as the years go by. But it’s important to stay in charge of making smart lifestyle choices as you get older so you can achieve, preserve and truly enjoy a healthier quality of life.
Make Small Changes: They Add Up
The leading cause of death for men in the U.S. is heart disease, and about half of the men who died suddenly from coronary heart disease had no symptoms before it happened. The top heart disease risks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are medical and lifestyle factors such as:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Physical inactivity
- Unhealthy diet
These factors can also impact your risk for other health conditions like stroke, certain cancers and more. Fortunately, you can take steps to keep your body healthy with the everyday choices you make.
Eat those greens. Making the choice to fuel yourself mainly with wholesome foods, and avoiding sugar and salt, will affect how you feel and reduce your long-term health risks. On an everyday basis, try to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and switch up your sources of protein.
Keep it moving. Getting enough exercise is important. The CDC recommends for 20 minutes per day, but even small amounts of physical activity count, especially any activity you like that makes you sweat. Healthy habit shifts like taking the stairs, choosing to park at the bottom of the hill, or knocking out some pushups while you wait for the microwave might help you keep up an active mindset and lifestyle!
Watch what’s in your cup. Choosing water over soda is an easy way to cut down on excess sugar. If you drink alcohol, curbing your intake can have positive effects on a variety of health conditions. Make sure you keep tabs on exactly how much alcohol you consume on a weekly basis.
Get to Know Your Doc
It can be all too easy to avoid getting a checkup at the doctor’s office, especially if you’re feeling healthy. But some diseases don’t show symptoms at first. Seeing a healthcare provider regularly and making tune ups when needed can help you prevent or treat conditions before they get significantly worse.
Talk to your doctor about your blood pressure and cholesterol. Ask if there are any conditions you should be screened for, such as diabetes, or colon cancer if you’re over 50. It’s not always convenient, but taking these steps is within your control.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Just like you check in with your doctor, don’t forget to check in with your mental health. Stress can affect your lifestyle choices and your body’s immune system. Men and women experience the same types of mental health conditions, but men may not show the same warning signs as women.
If you’re feeling differently lately, don’t ignore your symptoms. You can work to reduce your stress level or find good-for-you ways to manage your stress.
Time for a Change?
It’s never too late to take charge of your health. If you need to make swaps in your food options, move your body more or get rid of a habit that’s not helping you, every day is a new chance to start. What might be uncomfortable at first will soon feel more familiar. And keep it up—your health is worth it.
David Press, MD, is associate chief medical officer at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center.