Some men struggle to look after their mental and physical health. In fact, the 'gender health gap' goes both ways. Men are nearly 20% less likely than women to pay a visit to the doctor. The National Center for Biotechnology Information found that men who have not experienced a serious health event are not likely to have regular health providers or annual wellness exams. This lack of focus on personal health is partly due to misunderstanding their medical needs. So in this article, we'll break down six important steps men can take to help stay on top of their health and avoid major health risks — like prostate cancer and heart disease — down the road.
- Get regular checkups
The worst medical mistake men can make is assuming that they don't need regular checkups and medical exams. Just because you are feeling well doesn't mean that you are healthy. Visiting your doctor can make a world of difference when it comes to both serious and minor health issues. We cover everything men should be visiting their doctors for in our essential health screenings section below.
- Focus on nutrition
Quality nutrients are important to maintain men's immune function and overall health. As men age, it's particularly important to get the right amount of vitamins and nutrients to help prevent bone, muscle and eyesight reduction. Visit our recent blog post where we cover the basics of eating healthy.
- Reduce stress
Stress can lead to weight gain, unhealthy eating habits, depression and even chronic illness. If you are experiencing stress symptoms, taking steps to manage your stress can have many health benefits. Some ways to reduce stress levels include:
- Getting regular physical activity
- Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga
- Spending time with family and friends
- Keeping a sense of humor
- Setting aside time to do the things you love
- Know your family history
Knowing about your family health history is often the first step in lowering your chances of getting hereditary diseases. Staying informed on things you may be at risk of developing will help you spot early signs and symptoms so you can get to the doctor before they become more serious.
- Vary your workouts
While getting regular exercise is a great start, it's important to keep varying your fitness program to match your body's needs. After all, the body gets comfortable when you stick to the same routine. In our blog post on men's fitness, we go over some safe and effective ways to get in a good exercise.
- Prioritize sleep
A good night's sleep for an adult is 7 -9 hours each night, and getting less than that can greatly affect your health and well being. In fact, poor sleep tends to worsen the symptoms of mental and physical health issues.
Essential health screenings for men
Prostate cancer. Men's risk of developing prostate cancer increases as they age, being most common after age 50. While the general guidelines recommend starting at age 55, you may need PSA screening between the ages of 40 and 54 if you have at least one first-degree relative who has had prostate cancer.
Blood pressure. Every man should have their blood pressure checked regularly — and men with other cardiovascular risk factors like obesity should check their blood pressure more frequently.
Blood cholesterol. All men aged 35 or older should be having their blood cholesterol checked regularly.
Colon cancer. Men are at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. All men should be screened for colorectal cancer at age 45.
Obesity. BMI (body mass index) is a calculation based on your weight and height. While measuring your BMI can be done at home, your doctor may want to use other methods to help further assess whether you are overweight or obese.
Diabetes. Men who have high blood pressure or take blood pressure medication should be screened for diabetes.
Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer in the United States. Men born between 1945 and 1965 are at an increased risk of hepatitis C infection. Hepatitis C can be detected through blood testing.
Aortic aneurysm. Being male and smoking significantly increase the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm. Men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have ever smoked cigarettes should be screened for aortic aneurysm.
Men shouldn't be waiting until something is seriously wrong to start visiting the doctor, yet a Cleveland Clinic survey found that only half of the 1,174 adult men surveyed said they get regular checkups. The sooner you get up-to-date on your health screenings, the better. At El Camino Health, we offer quick and convenient health screenings so you can go forward with peace of mind. Click here to find a doctor today.
This article first appeared in the June 2022 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.