On average, men live 4.4 years less than women, and research says that the last 11 years will be in poor health. But by swapping out a few unhealthy lifestyle choices for better options, and adopting regular health screenings, men can live healthier and happier lives.
Make sleep a priority
Good sleep isn’t something to compromise. Men who sleep 7-8 hours a night have about 60% less risk of fatal heart attack than those who sleep 5 hours are fewer. Avoid screens for at least an hour before bed, try to sleep at the same time each night, and limit caffeine and alcohol for a restful night.
Protect your skin
Men can lower their risk of developing melanoma by spending time in the shade, wearing an SPF30 sunscreen and reapplying every two hours. But some sun is recommended: 15 to 20 minutes of unprotected time in the sun two to four times per week optimises Vitamin D development, which helps calcium absorption and protects against many types of cancers.
Mental health check
Regular exercise isn’t just good for the body: even moderate exercise can have a big impact on improving mental health, andresearch shows that inactive men are 60% more likely to suffer from depression. Exercise also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood.
Swap steak for fish
Red meat increases the risk of heart disease and other health conditions, while oily fish is a great source of protein and loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Good nutritional choices for men also include berries, whole grains, red-orange vegetables, broccoli, bananas and Brazil nuts.
Working overtime once in a while might be unavoidable, but men shouldn’t make it a habit. Working too many long hours is associated with a greater risk of anxiety and depression, which can harm health.
Taking these steps will help ensure good health and fitness, but regular check-ups are also necessary for men to protect themselves against illness, injury and disease that develop with age.
For optimal health, make sure you’re getting the recommended screenings for your age:
In your twenties:
– A general health check is a good idea and should include a blood test and blood pressure check.
– STI/HIV screening every two years
– At home, check skin for unusual moles, and check for unusual lumps or thickenings in the testicles.
In your thirties:
– In addition to the above, men in their thirties should be tested for diabetes, thyroid disease, anaemia and liver problems
– Screening for coronary heart disease once a year
In your forties, keep up with all of the above, adding:
– Cardiovascular screening every five years
– Annual screening for prostate cancer
For optimal health in your fifties and beyond:
– Annual screening for Type-2 diabetes
– A stool-based test annually, or colonoscopy
– Screening for depression
– Vision and hearing exams annually
In your sixties, incorporate the above screenings, with:
– Annual screening for dementia and Alzheimer’s
– Cholesterol screening at least every five years
With regular health screenings and a few simple measures incorporating better fitness, nutrition and improved mental health, men can enjoy greater wellbeing and longevity.