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5 Ways to Keep Men Healthy as They Age

Posted June 26, 2023 by Kevin Spear, M.D.

Man jogging

Statistically speaking, the truth is men don’t live as long as women.

That’s why it’s critical that men of all ages recognize potential health risks and start taking precautions early on. While they can’t change their genes, they can change some of their risk factors by taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle.

Some of the biggest health concerns facing men today include heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Summa Health offers 5 tips to prioritize men’s health—and slow down aging. By choosing a healthier lifestyle and scheduling routine checkups with their providers today, they are taking the first step towards a healthier tomorrow. The women in their lives will thank them!

1. Schedule regular health checkups

Men are notorious for avoiding the doctor and unusual symptoms. In fact, research shows that nearly 45 percent of men between ages 18 and 50 do not have a primary care physician (PCP).
However, regular appointments with a PCP and dentist are important ways to be proactive in their health.

Men should see a PCP at least once a year for a routine checkup and screening evaluation to check and monitor important risk factors. They should have their cholesterol checked at age 25 and at least every five years thereafter, depending on the results. They should also have their blood pressure checked at least every two years and take appropriate measures to lower the rate, if elevated.

In addition, the American Diabetes Association recommends men get checked for diabetes if they have a family history, a body mass index of 25 or higher, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, and are over the age of 45.

For men who have no known chronic conditions, a periodic health evaluation may be the only opportunity to discuss preventive care and, hopefully, prevent disease. Regular appointments also provide the opportunity to discuss any health concerns they may have and how best to address them.

2. Regularly screen for cancer

Regular cancer screenings increase the chances of detecting certain cancers early when they are easier to treat. In fact, screening tests can help find a cancer before a man experiences any symptoms.

The American Cancer Society recommends screening tests for men for the following cancers:

Prostate cancer: Men who are obese, have higher levels of testosterone and are 50 years or older should have a prostate cancer test. How often depends on the man’s risk factors.(African Americans should start screening at age 40)
Colorectal cancer: Men should have regular colorectal cancer tests starting at age 45, as well as those with inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal polyps and a family history of colon cancer.
Lung cancer: Men who are 50 to 80 years old and either have a history of heavy smoking and smoke now, or have quit within the last 15 years should have yearly lung cancer screenings with a low-dose CT scan.

3. Maintain a healthy diet

A healthy diet can help lower the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Men should make sure their diet is chock full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Lean meats, such as poultry, fish, beans and eggs, are great sources of protein.
In addition, they should replace saturated fats from red meat, butter and fried fast foods with healthy fats from salmon, nuts and seeds. Men also need to be sure to limit their intake of sodium and sugar.

Last but not least, men should drink plenty of water. Ideally, they should aim to drink about a gallon a day.

4. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise is the best way to improve heart health, maintain weight, and increase muscle strength, flexibility and balance. It also reduces stress and can help men sleep better at night.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends men do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., brisk walking, biking or swimming) a week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.

5. Avoid unhealthy lifestyle choices

Men should limit alcohol consumption to two drinks a day or less and if they smoke, it’s never too late to quit. It is estimated that cigarette smoking is responsible for one in every five deaths each year and, on average, smokers die about 10 years earlier than non-smokers based on data from the CDC.

Smoking cessation is likely the single most important factor to minimize a man’s risk of stroke, high blood pressure, COPD, cancer and heart disease.

Don’t neglect your health. To schedule an appointment with a Summa Health provider, call 877.655.6330.

Kevin A Spear, MD

Kevin A Spear, MD

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