Did you know women are 33% more likely to visit a doctor than men? Our ultimate men’s health guide will explore why that is, as well as several healthy living tips for men that you can mix into your routine to improve your lifestyle.
Why Is Men’s Health Care So Important?
Although males and females are mostly prone to the same diseases, men face a unique set of health issues that require lots of preventative, proactive care. Men tend to shy away from the doctor’s office for many reasons that may sound familiar to you. Do you have trouble talking about sensitive topics or putting yourself in vulnerable situations? Do you sometimes feel too prideful or lazy to visit a doctor and assume your health issues will resolve on their own? If you answered yes to these questions, it’s probably time to book an appointment.
The reality is that men die an average of six years earlier than women. They take more physical risks that put them at a higher chance of early mortality. They have higher suicide rates due to the stigma surrounding masculinity and mental health. They’re more prone to cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. As a man, making your health care a priority is a crucial part of preventing and treating these inevitable conditions before it’s too late. Remember, health care is a necessity for everyone — regardless of age, gender or race.
These healthy living tips for men are a great place to start your journey toward preventive health care.
Once again, prevention is just as — if not more — important than seeking treatment after you’re already sick. You should expect these screenings to be part of your regular health care routine, when applicable:
- General screenings (e.g., high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol)
- Cancer screenings (e.g., prostate cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer)
- Contagious diseases (e.g., HIV, Hepatitis C)
- Mental screenings (e.g., anxiety, depression, substance use disorders)
Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in men, but it’s largely preventable. These general healthy living tips for men will help you identify what you’re doing well in your routine and where you can improve.
- Physical Activity: You should strive for 150 minutes of exercise per week. That’s just 30 minutes per day, five days per week. Whether you lift heavy weights or walk around the block doesn’t matter — as long as you’re up and moving, all exercise is good exercise.
- Diet: Eat your vegetables, fruits and lean proteins like chicken and fish. Avoid processed foods, limit red meats and watch your salt intake. If you’re plates are frequently cooked at home and feature the colors of the rainbow, this is a good indication of a well-rounded diet.
- Tobacco Use: Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, so it’s important to quit as soon as you can. Your health care team has plenty of tools and resources to help you knock the habit.
Family history may also influence your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. At a checkup appointment, your doctor will talk to you about your family history and help you create a prevention plan based on your genetics.
Diabetes can also be prevented by many of the same healthy living tips for men listed above. However, with diabetes, it is especially important to limit the amount of carbohydrates and sugary beverages you consume. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight is the most important part of preventing diabetes and the cardiac diseases this condition may lead to.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men. The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland that sits just behind your bladder and helps your body create reproductive fluids. As men age, it often gets bigger. Determining whether this growth is normal or cancerous can be tricky, so it’s important to get screened regularly — especially if you are over age 55. Screenings are commonly a physical exam where the doctor feels for masses, but urine and blood tests are also common. The following signs may be an indication of benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate:
- Difficulty emptying bladder
- Blood in urine
- Using the bathroom very frequently
- Family history of prostate cancer
The second most common type of cancer in men is colon cancer. Doctors recommend that all men over age 45 be screened for colon cancer, but this may happen earlier depending on your family history. Colonoscopies are the most common screening method, but there are also less invasive alternatives that must be done more frequently.
Lung cancer is often, but not always, caused by smoking. If you are over age 50 and have a history of smoking, your doctor may suggest an annual CT scan for your lungs.
Next up in our men’s health guide is immunizations. Outside of influenza and COVID-19, you should always stay up to date on these three vaccines:
- Tetanus: Recommended once every 10 years for children and adults over age 12.
- Shingles: Recommended for all men over 50, with two doses separated by two to six months.
- Pneumonia: Recommended for all men over 65, as well as select patients over 18 who have chronic conditions.
Mental Health Disorders
You can’t talk about men’s health without talking about mental health. Men experience anxiety, depression and other mental disorders at the same rate as women, but they are far less likely to seek help for them. The pandemic has had a negative impact on mental health, but it has also helped create awareness and destigmatize these topics for men.
Here are some common warning signs and symptoms of mental health disorders. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
- Pulling away from people and activities you used to enjoy
- Increased agitation or outbursts of anger
- Poor focus
- Lack of sleep
- Undereating or overeating
- Struggling in social and professional life
The good news is that there’s no shortage of treatment methods available to you. Once you seek help, you and your doctor will create a personalized care plan that likely combines medication (e.g., antidepressants) and therapy (i.e., group or solo counseling with a psychiatrist). Remember that professional athletes have trainers, too. No matter how healthy we may seem, we could all use a little extra help sometimes.
How To Find a Doctor You Trust
If you’re looking for more realistic, evidence-based healthy living tips for men, it’s important to create a productive relationship with your health care team. The more you get to know and like your doctor, the better they can tailor their treatment methods to your individual needs. Struggling to find the right doctor? Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Ask your family, friends and other people you trust for a recommendation.
- Be sure your personalities, values and views align.
- Clearly explain your long-term goals and objectives.
- If something doesn’t feel quite right, speak up and advocate for yourself.
- Keep in mind that it’s okay to change providers. Don’t worry about hurting your doctor’s feelings; their number one goal is for you to be healthy, happy and comfortable.