A Year-by-Year Guide to Keeping Guys Healthy
The state of men's health in America is concerning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- 13.2% of men over the age of 18 are in poor or fair health.
- 40.5% of men aged 20 are obese.
- 51.9% of men aged 20 and older have high blood pressure and/or are taking antihypertensive medications.
- 30.9% of men consumed five or more alcoholic beverages in a single day, at least once, over the past year.
Fortunately, many of the health risks men face are preventable and treatable. Knowing the facts about men’s health, engaging in activities that lower risk factors and participating in necessary screenings are essential first steps in combating some of the leading causes of death in men.
Preventative Tips to Decrease Risk Factors
Physical activity and diet play a crucial role in men’s overall health. Follow these diet and exercise tips to get ahead of your health.
Not surprisingly, the food you eat to fuel your body has a huge impact on its functioning. Foods high in calories, sugar, salt and fat are linked to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and certain types of cancers.
The CDC’s healthy eating guidelines for men include:
- Eat 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables per day.
- Limit salt to two-thirds teaspoons per day (1500 mg). Season food instead with herbs, spices or lemon.
- Boil, bake, roast or poach instead of frying.
- Cut down on foods with excessive salt and/or fat, like bacon and cold cuts.
- Choose foods rich in antioxidants such as leafy greens, berries and nuts.
Staying active provides the body with multiple health benefits, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Consistent exercise also tones the muscles, strengthens the lungs, keeps joints moving and improves balance. Additionally, exercise is linked to the prevention of breast and colon cancer.
You can build exercise into each day by:
- Using the stairs instead of the elevator
- Parking farther from your destination
- Walking around an airport or train station rather than sitting and waiting
- Combining TV watching with yoga, lifting hand weights or riding a stationary bike
Screenings are a tool for early detection, diagnosis and treatment of various conditions. Follow this guide to help understand what age you should start getting screened for each condition. However, some people need certain screenings earlier. Talk to your doctor about which screenings are right for you.
Age 18 and Up
- Blood pressure: The ideal range is 120/80 or below. Anything in the range of 120-139/80-89 is considered high and requires a yearly check. If your blood pressure rises above 140/90, see your doctor right away.
- Diabetes: Anyone having a body mass index (BMI) above 25 with other risk factors should be tested. Men over age 45 should be screened every three years.
Age 34 and Up
- Cholesterol: Men over age 34 should be checked every year. You may need to get screened more often if you have a condition such as heart disease, kidney problems or diabetes.
- Colon cancer: The CDC recommends a colonoscopy every 10 years and a sigmoidoscopy with stool test every five to 10 years for men between 50 and 75 years. Talk to your doctor about earlier screenings if you have a family history of colon cancer.
- Osteoporosis: Risk factors include long-term steroid use, heavy alcohol consumption, low body weight, smoking or a family history of the disease. Men between 50 and 75 should discuss screening with their doctors.
- Prostate cancer: Men at average risk for prostate cancer should start screening at age 50. Men at higher risk, including African-Americans and those with a close family history of prostate cancer, should begin earlier.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA): If you are between 65 and 75 and have smoked 100 or more cigarettes throughout your lifetime, talk to your doctor about screening.
- Hepatitis C virus: A blood test is recommended for men born between 1945 and 1965, those who have injected drugs, or those who received a blood transfusion before 1992.
- Lung cancer: If you smoke now, have quit within the past 15 years or have a 30-pack-year total (number of packs of cigarettes smoked each day times the number of years you’ve smoked), talk to your doctor about screening.