As guys, we want to protect our partners, kids and communities. But it’s high time we start taking better care of ourselves.
On average, U.S. men die almost five years sooner than women— a difference most experts attribute to unhealthy behaviors and a reluctance to seek medical help.
The good news? With a slight change in mindset—one with a focus on preventive measures and getting help from our doctors—we can take control of our health.
Many chief causes of male health problems are preventable. Men are more likely to smoke, drink excessively and suffer from our country’s leading cause of death: heart disease.
Sadly, most gentlemen aren’t reaching out for the help they need. Males are 33% less likely to visit a doctor for checkups or preventive services than females. This means missing vital tests for things like cholesterol or blood pressure.
To get back on track, here are some tips for adopting healthier habits.
1. Get three hours of activity per week
It can be as simple as a walk after dinner or weekend yard work.
2. Eat more than just meat
Strive to incorporate daily servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats while limiting sodium, added sugar and saturated fats.
3. Reduce or eliminate alcohol and tobacco
If you choose to drink alcohol, limit yourself to two or fewer drinks per day. If you smoke, make a plan for quitting.
4. Take advantage of preventive care
A doctor isn’t just someone you see when you’re sick. Your primary care provider (PCP) is there to recommend screenings and tests, do annual checkups and help keep you from getting sick in the first place.
5. Don’t forget mental health
Watch for common signs of mental health issues such as mood changes, trouble sleeping or thoughts of suicide and get help if they last for longer than two weeks.
There are positive benefits to being open about your health. Whether it’s with your doctor or relatives—the more you know about specific risks in your family’s history, the better prepared you will be.
Sources: CDC, US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, American Cancer Society