Men’s preventive health tips

Many men may fall into the stereotype of putting other things ahead of taking care of themselves, whether that's work or hobbies or other interests. In the busy rhythm of everyday life, it may be easy to overlook things like scheduling a yearly physical exam. If that sounds like you or someone you know, here are some tips that may help you put your health on the top of your list. After all, keeping your body healthy may just take some simple steps — some good lifestyle habits, regular checkups and self-care can go a long way. Take a look below to test your knowledge and hopefully you may walk away with tips on how to take care of your health.

Top health conditions and biggest risk factors for men

Generally speaking, men are at a greater risk for a handful of health conditions. Heart disease, stroke, depression, lung cancer and prostate cancer are at the top the list. Knowing the risk factors of each of these conditions can help you understand your overall risk — and maybe encourage some lifestyle changes or a visit to your doctor. 1,2

Regular checkups

It’s no surprise that regular visits to your doctor are part of any good preventive health routine. Yearly physical exams are when your doctor checks for many of the risk factors listed above. Or, even the conditions themselves. Preventive screenings for different kinds of cancer may be life-saving. Talk with your doctor about what they recommend based on your health and family history. Here are a couple of common things your doctor may screen or test for during your visit:

  • Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can clog your arteries if your body has too much. This may lead to heart disease, heart attack or stroke.
  • Blood pressure: Having high blood pressure means your blood is pumping against your arteries at a high enough force to cause damage. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure. This may put you at risk for heart disease, heart attack or stroke. A normal blood pressure level is below 120/80 mmHg.6

Your yearly physical is also the time to mention any other health concerns or symptoms you’re having — mental or physical. Your doctor is there to help you along your health journey, so be open about your concerns and questions. The important thing is to have an honest conversation about your health so you can live your best life.

Good food and regular exercise

Food is delicious. It’s also a powerful defense against all sorts of ailments and chronic diseases, including some of the health conditions mentioned earlier. When we eat the right foods, we’re helping our bodies function at their best while reducing our chances of certain diagnoses. And, combining that with regular exercise can set you up for health success (and perhaps fewer trips to the doctor). So, is there a secret diet or special activity you should know about? While that sounds easier, there actually isn’t one. But in some ways, that’s the beauty. We all have different nutrient needs and enjoy different ways to move our body. When it comes to diet and exercise, you get to pick which healthy foods and exercise you enjoy most.

Good food

Some men might benefit from certain foods that could help protect against those common health conditions. There are lots of ways to approach food. Here are some ideas:

  • Heart health: A heart-healthy diet focuses on limiting unhealthy fats that could turn into plaque and clog your arteries, as well as reducing sodium that can cause high blood pressure.7
  • Mediterranean diet: The Mediterranean diet can help with conditions like diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and even neurological disease. It focuses on plant foods, olive oil, fish, poultry, beans and grains.8
  • Mental health: Food can even affect our mood. For example, added sugar can cause weight gain, an unbalanced gut, brain fog and inflammation. 
  • Prostate protection: Help your body fend off prostate issues by eating things like cruciferous veggies, berries, fish, cooked tomatoes, and coffee or tea.

Regular exercise

Exercise is such an important part of staying healthy. But what does “regular exercise” really mean? A good target each week is anywhere between 2.5 and 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity — split up however you like. Plus, at least 2 days of full-body strength training.9 For example, you could do an aerobic activity for 45 minutes each day and add on your strength training Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It’s all about finding a good routine that works for your body and lifestyle. And, one that gives you a good, well-rounded workout.

Not sure where to start? There are lots of resources out there — everything from fitness magazines, workout DVDs, fitness apps and group fitness classes. Try a few different things to see what you like most. Working out should be enjoyable, so give your body time to find its groove.