Like deep spray-on tans and all-day shopping marathons, doctor visits are not necessarily high on a man’s list of things to do.
Let’s face it, most men wait as long as possible before seeing a doctor. The laundry list of reasons (or really, excuses) includes feeling “fine”, fear of finding something wrong, costs associated with anything medical related, being too busy, or not being “sick enough.” Perhaps this is one reason why women tend to outlive men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the life expectancy of men is going down rather than up. The average male life expectancy is currently around 76 years. While this might seem like progress, considering in the 1960’s men lived mostly until their mid-60’s, there’s certainly room for improvement. With advances in technology, quality of life, and preventive medicines it may seem easier to stay and feel healthy to swallow yet another prescribed pill. However, it isn’t a substitute for managing your own health and lifestyle. Men are simple creatures and taking control of their health shouldn’t be any different. Here are 5 easy tips to keep men fit and living longer.
Tip No. 1: Lose the Beer Gut
Pants should be worn across your belly, not under it. Size 32 doesn’t count when the navel hits the thigh. Aside from pounding the weight scale 4 or 5 times a day, a rule of thumb in maintaining a healthy weight is measuring and tracking the circumference of your waist. To measure your waist, start from and end at the belly button. The circumference should be less than half your height. For example, if you are 6 feet tall, your waistline should be 36 inches or less. Obesity takes its toll on health, but for every point your Body Mass Index (BMI) is over 25, it also decreases your testosterone by 3%. This will have you feeling more fatigued, loss of muscle tone, less interest in sex, and depression. An easy, and effective way to combat the beer gut is to lower your daily caloric intake by 100 calories. Doing this each day will allow you to lose an average 10 pounds over one year.
Tip No. 2: Avoid Fad Diets
Atkins, low-fat, no-fat, low-carb, grapefruit, Hollywood, South Beach, keto … the list goes on and on. Problem is, these “diets” may yield fast results but none are sustainable and certainly not healthy in the long term. Plain and simple, the most effective way to lose weight is to reduce caloric intake and eat a variety of healthy, whole, minimally processed foods including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Let the nutritional information on foods be an effective guide. If the foods you put in your mouth have more than 5 ingredients you can’t pronounce and/or have a shelf life of several months/years, it’s time to modify your grocery list. Eat small meals throughout the day, avoid late night snacking, and drink water religiously.
Tip No. 3: Keep it Safe
According to the CDC, unintentional injuries were the third leading cause of death among all males (all races) in the United States. Among these unintentional injuries, motor vehicle crashes, poisonings, drownings, and falls led the list. In layman’s terms, this means men have opportunities to exercise additional safety precautions while engaging in activities. No surprise, alcohol is a common denominator associated with these injuries. Alcohol loosens inhibitions, slows reflexes, and disrupts coordination increasing your risk of being injured. Limit your consumption of alcohol and if you do drink, leave the operation of motor vehicles (including cars, boats, and riding lawnmowers) to someone who is sober.
Tip No. 4: Supplements & Vitamins
Because all substances can have impacts on other medications, it is important to consult your physician regarding any supplements you consider taking. Supplements come in all shapes, sizes, strengths, and claims. Proper consultation and avoidance of self diagnosing and medicating will avoid confusion and save you both time and money. The most common supplement men take are multi-vitamins which come is various formulations. Even though eating a balanced, nutritious diet will typically give you the daily nutrients your body needs, multi-vitamins assures the recommended daily allowances are met. However, be cognizant of the vitamin contents to avoid possible interactions and/or overdosing. Not all men are created equal and depending on your age and current health, nutritional requirements can vary. While most vitamins are water-soluble, meaning your body will use what it needs and expel the rest in your urine (thus the Gatorade-esque glow of your pee), certain vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are fat-soluble. For what your body doesn’t use right away, these fat-soluble vitamins are stored in fat cells. Too much of certain fat-soluble vitamins can lead to toxicity with symptoms such as headache, nausea, skin, up to organ, bone, and tissue damage. For this reason, fat-soluble vitamins should not usually be taken daily.
Tip No. 5: Stay Active
Chances are you spend more of your day sitting than walking, but finding ways to incorporate activity doesn’t necessarily mean paying monthly fees at the gym. Increasing your activity can be as effortless as walking down the hall to speak to someone, instead of sending an email. Consider doing things less efficiently, such as unloading groceries one bag at a time, taking the stairs instead of an elevator, or parking further away from an entrance. Adding extra steps and activities throughout your day can yield positive results such as weight loss, lower blood pressure, and improving your mood. Most adults should get at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity activity (like brisk walking) each week plus a couple days of muscle-strengthening activities. Keeping this momentum is best achieved by choosing activities that are both enjoyable and readily available to you.
Keep it simple, keep it fun, and be a man about your health.