Did you know that most American men live seven years less than women? Men’s health is in crisis nationwide, and this issue is particularly evident in states like Oklahoma, which ranks 48th in the nation for cardiovascular disease death rates among men and ranks 45th for overall health.
The challenges to men’s health are diverse and worsen with the unhealthy habits of today’s modern era. Lethargic lifestyles, poor dietary choices, stress, and lack of self-care contribute to this concerning trend. Binge-watching three seasons of your favorite show on Netflix while eating an entire army’s worth of chips or working overtime while running on two hours of sleep. The pressures and temptations of daily life demand more time, causing you to neglect your well-being.
However, despite the obstacles and challenges, living as a healthy man in the woes of the modern world is possible. Being mindful and adopting healthier habits can extend your longevity, improve your quality of life, and break unhealthy patterns. The following tips will support you on this journey, empowering you to lead a fulfilling life.
1. Get Regular Checkups
Encouraging men to prioritize their health and schedule annual checkups can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Many men have limited interaction with healthcare professionals and neglect the importance of routine checkups and preventive care. A recent national survey reports that 33% of men do not see the importance of yearly medical checkups. This neglect becomes increasingly evident in states like Oklahoma, where 14% of men die before their same-aged spouses when entering retirement age.
Ignoring regular checkups and screenings can lead to undetected health issues that may worsen by age sixty. For example, according to a reputable Oklahoma Men’s Health Clinic, common problems faced by men who neglect regular checkups include undiagnosed high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and early signs of prostate problems.
Routine medical checkups provide an opportunity for preventive care, such as vaccinations, screenings, and lifestyle counseling, which lowers the risks of infections and chronic diseases. Regular checkups help monitor chronic conditions, manage medications effectively, assess mental health, and plan long-term care needs. Proactively engaging in routine checkups can enhance your overall well-being, increase longevity, and enjoy a higher quality later in life.
2. Make Nutritious Food Choices
The better food you feed your body, the better its health. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that whole foods like fruits and vegetables are providers of essential nutrients, minerals, and fiber that support optimal health. Little additions like avocado on toast or a banana and blueberry smoothie can make a big difference.
Another aspect highlighted by the guidelines is the need to limit processed foods and sugary drinks. These foods contain added sugars, unhealthy fats, and high sodium levels, contributing to weight gain, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Choosing homemade meals instead of eating out gives you better control over the ingredients, letting you choose healthier alternatives.
Start planning your meals and create a grocery list focused on whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Incorporating fruits and vegetables into every meal and eating whole grains like whole wheat bread and brown rice over refined grains ensures a higher fiber intake and essential nutrients. Avoid eating out too often and cook at home with healthy ingredients. Practice portion control, stay hydrated, and indulge in your favorite treats in moderation.
3. Prioritize Mental Health
In 2021, around 80% of suicides in America were by men. Yet, the conversations about men’s mental often come to a halt with the dismissive phrase “man up,” which undermines the seriousness of the issue and perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Societal expectations dictate that men should always be strong, stoic, and unemotional can be burdensome—the pressure to conform to these stereotypes leads to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and internalized struggles.
Unaddressed mental health concerns can lead to physical symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, digestive problems, and weakened immune function. By prioritizing mental health, men can positively impact their physical well-being and lead healthier lives.
To prioritize mental health, practice self-care. Establish boundaries to maintain a healthy work-life balance and learn to say no to excessive commitments. Engage in activities that promote personal growth and take breaks to disconnect from technology. Cultivate relationships with family and friends, seeking support and openly communicating your feelings and concerns.
4. Reduce Screen Time
Spending excessive time on screens, whether smartphones, tablets, or computers, contribute to sedentary behavior. This static behavior contributes to increased health issues like obesity, heart disease, and musculoskeletal problems.
Endlessly scrolling through Instagram reels for hours may seem like a fun activity now, but the health problems you’ll develop years later say otherwise. This addiction can also negatively impact your mental health. Research has shown that heavy smartphone use is associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. The constant exposure to social media and online content can also lead to feelings of comparison, low self-esteem, and increased stress levels.
Set boundaries and create designated screen-free periods throughout the day to reduce screen time. Consider implementing strategies like turning off notifications, using app timers or screen time trackers, and practicing mindfulness or other activities that don’t involve screens. Engaging in hobbies, spending time outdoors, exercising, and connecting with loved ones in person are great ways to reduce screen time and improve overall well-being.
Track Your Health
By tracking your health, detect patterns, trends, and changes in your well-being, such as physical activity, sleep, mood, and diet. Starting early and maintaining a health-tracking routine can be particularly advantageous as you approach retirement.
It provides a comprehensive health history that can aid in medical evaluations and early detection of potential health issues. With a documented health record, you can effectively communicate with healthcare professionals and make informed decisions about preventive screenings, vaccinations, and lifestyle adjustments.
As a modern man, take advantage of modern technology to improve your health. You can use health-tracking platforms like Google Fit to track your steps, calories burnt, heart rate, sleep pattern, and log your weight. You can also measure your food intake and water consumption, which helps you maintain a healthy weight.
In today’s modern era, there are better quality healthcare services and advanced technologies that can significantly support your journey toward a healthier lifestyle. Remember, it’s not just about living in the moment but about making choices that will benefit your body in the long run.
Seize the opportunities available and commit to making positive changes. When you’re retired, you’ll thank your younger self for your investment in your health today. Embrace the power to shape your well-being, and enjoy a vibrant and fulfilling life.