Did you know that men live an average of 5 years less than their female counterparts? The average life expectancy at birth for females is 81 years while for males it is only 76.2 years. In 1920, women only lived, on average, one year longer than men. Men have higher rates of death for many of the top 10 causes of death including heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Men are also half a likely as women to visit their doctor for annual exams and preventative services. Men’s Health Month is celebrated countrywide in order to raise awareness of preventable health problems and to encourage the early detection and treatment of diseases in men and boys.
Now that you know that facts, what steps can men take to improve their health and change these statistics?
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is important for your health. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Not getting enough sleep is linked to many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, depression, and obesity.
Toss Out the Tobacco
Men have higher levels of testosterone, and this hormone can increase your “bad” cholesterol, thus increasing your risk for heart attacks. The risk of heart attacks is also increased when you smoke cigarettes. The good news is you are never too old to quit smoking. Some of the health benefits of quitting start immediately, including improved circulation and lung function. Other long-term health benefits of quitting smoking include a lowered risk for developing lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks. Your doctor or pharmacist can give you advice and assistance about quitting.
Adults should participate in a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic, or “cardio”, exercise every week and two days per week of muscle strengthening activities. Make this manageable by spreading it out over the week and throughout the day in 10-minute intervals. Regular exercise can also reduce the risk of heart attacks associated with high cholesterol.
Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Watch your portion sizes and limit foods and drinks with large amounts of sugar, salt, or fat, high calorie foods, and alcohol. Men 65 and under should limit alcohol to up to 2 drinks per day and men over 65 should have no more than 1 drink each day.
Make prevention a priority. You should see your doctor at least once every year. Annual checkups can help in the early detection of health conditions. Your doctor will likely check your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, prostate health, and more. Men over 40 should have a prostate exam in order to order to detect early signs of cancer. A prostate exam consists of a blood test and a digital rectal exam where the doctor will manually feel the prostate for irregularities. The exam may be uncomfortable, but it only takes a minute or two and can help avoid serious health problems.