With Father’s Day just around the corner, it’s important that men of all stripes, whether they’re fathers or not, look at ways that they can improve their health and wellbeing.
After all, one of the keys to a long, productive life and meaningful relationships is staying as healthy as possible.
Which is why the entire month of June is dedicated to men’s health, with a focus on Men’s Health Week during the week leading up to Father’s Day.
The fact of the matter is that men visit their physicians for routine exams far less than women and they’re much more reluctant to openly discuss health issues, especially as it relates to mental health.
As a result, these issues can fester and lead to all sorts of negative health outcomes.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, men die at twice the rate of women due to alcohol-related diseases and drug overdoses.
An even starker truth is that men are four times as likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts.
Even a little bit of effort goes a long way. Men who take a proactive role in their own wellbeing can optimize their health and increase their life expectancy.
6 Simple Ways Men Can Live Healthier Lives
As young adults, most men are at the most active period in their lives, and they are also at their healthiest. Many only see a doctor when a sports injury makes it necessary to get patched up.
But as each decade goes by, they begin to show physical signs of slowing down, even if they mentally still think they’re only 25. A man’s ego is his own worst enemy, and it isn’t until most men pass the 50-year mark that reality starts to settle in.
Even if they won’t outwardly admit it, they start coming to grips with the fact that they can’t do laps at the buffet any more without tipping the scales, and their domination on the courts has been seized by a younger generation.
Nobody likes to lose a few steps and feel the tug of aging. Especially men. These six simple things men can do won’t turn back the clock, but they can ease the effects of Father Time, just a little bit.
1. Visit the Doctor for a Yearly Physical
Knowing your baseline health is an important motivator. Everyone has health-related areas they can improve, and getting the facts is a reminder that we can do more to stay healthier.
Seeing a doctor on regular basis is also about prevention, catching, and treating any health issues before they become critical. If something does show up, early intervention for many diseases can add years to your life.
2. Exercise Daily
Create an exercise routine that is personally manageable. Not every guy loves to jog on a treadmill, lift weights in the gym, or go to spin classes.
However, walking just 2 miles at a brisk pace once a day is enough to decrease the risk of heart disease and heart attack, reports Harvard Medical School.
In no time at all, your endurance will increase, along with other health benefits, like improving the chances of avoiding certain cancers and lowering the risk of diabetes.
There are literally dozens of health apps available for cellphones to monitor daily metrics, as well as Fitbits and more sophisticated trackers. Seeing the numbers on a daily basis can lead to a personal challenge for improvement and become an excellent motivator.
3. Eat Healthy
Eating healthy has an almost immediate impact on energy, mood and memory. A diet that’s consistently rich in vegetables, fruit and lean proteins will improve weight loss, sleep and decrease the risk of developing diabetes. It goes a long way to steering clear of some cancers and heart disease too.
It’s not always easy to eat right, but with a little bit of planning it’s not impossible. Let that burger be a treat instead of a daily habit. As healthy eating becomes a habit, feeling the positive effects will develop into the incentive to continue.
4. Avoid Tobacco Use
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), men use tobacco products at a higher rate than women. The health effects of smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products are dire, and a major barrier to overall good health.
There are a number of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatments for nicotine addiction, and quitting tobacco use will immediately improve current and future health.
Heavy smokers who quit altogether could save enough money to splurge on a nice vacation every year to boot.
5. Limit Alcohol Intake
Excessive drinking is linked to a number of diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart and liver disease, and some types of cancer. And because alcohol is a depressant, psychological issues like depression can develop from too much bottle time.
It’s all too common for some men to develop a substance use disorder with alcohol or alcoholism, especially as they become older adults. If that’s case, reach out for help and seek alcohol rehab treatment before it causes more serious health problems.
6. Learn How to Manage Stress
Stress has been linked to heart disease, one of the most common causes of death in Americans.
The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests three tips for managing stress and living a healthy, less-stressful life, including exercise and meditation.
Spending time doing things you enjoy or being with friends and family on a regular basis might be all it takes to lower stress to optimal levels.
Bonus Tip: Get Proper Sleep
Sleep is one of the most overlooked ways to improve health and foster a positive outlook on life throughout the day. Most of us have a difficult time functioning during the day when we’re lacking in shuteye from the night before.
Every person is different, but most doctors and health organizations still recommend 8 hours of sleep each night, give or take a little bit.
Skeptical? Try it for a few nights and see if it makes a difference in how you feel the next day.
While you’re at it, get off the phone or computer an hour earlier than usual if you’re a screen junkie. Avoiding the blue light before bedtime can help improve the quality of sleep as much as the quantity of hours.
The real bonus shows up after following some of the other health tips here. That’s because exercising, eating healthy, limiting alcohol, and decreasing stress can all have a profound effect on improving sleep quality.
Wear Blue for Men’s Health Month
Armed with these tips for leading a healthier life, now it’s time to put them to practice. Small steps can lead to big gains, but it’s important to take the first step toward healthier living.
And in a show of solidarity, on the Friday before Father’s Day, men are pledging to wear blue in an order to spark a conversation about Men’s Health Month.