The new year is the ideal time to focus on your health and one expert has some tips, especially for men, for doing that.
According to health officials, “Men don’t always focus on their health and, in fact, men are less likely to see a doctor or utilize health resources, and wait longer than women to seek care. Often, it’s a man’s spouse or partner who convinces him to see a doctor.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, “a focus on health is especially important this year,” officials said in a Loyola news release.
Here are a few tips:
- Boost your physical activity.
- Men should exercise 150 minutes each week.
- Think about what you eat.
- January is a popular month to start a new diet.
A healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat dairy foods. It should also include lean proteins — such as poultry, fish, eggs and nuts — and foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
Most men need to pay more attention to their health. Compared to women, men are more likely to:
- Smoke and drink
- Make unhealthy or risky choices
- Put off regular checkups and medical care
There are also health conditions that only affect men, such as prostate cancer and low testosterone. Many of the major health risks that men face – like colon cancer or heart disease – can be prevented and treated with early diagnosis. Screening tests can find diseases early, when they are easier to treat. It’s important to get the screening tests you need.
Visit your primary care physician.
It’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor. “Concerns about money, not having a primary care physician, inconvenience or stoicism are common excuses, but the reality is that visiting a medical professional can greatly improve your health,” officials said. “And don’t just visit your doctor when you’re sick. Make a habit of scheduling an annual wellness exam. This ensures that you stay in good health and identify health issues before they become serious.”
Understand your risk of a heart attack.
Heart attack risk factors include being male, advanced age, a family history of heart disease, race and ethnicity (Black, Mexican Americans, American Indians and Asian Americans are at highest risk), smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, being overweight or obese, diabetes, stress and excessive alcohol consumption.
If you’re 50 or older, schedule a colonoscopy.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening for men aged 50 to 75. For men age 76 and older, alternative screening tests, including stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy or a CT colonography (a virtual colonoscopy), may be recommended.
Know the symptoms of prostate cancer, and the pros and cons of screening.
Prostate cancer screening through a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is available; however, for men aged 55 to 69, the decision to have PSA screening means weighing the benefits of cutting rates of advanced disease and death against potential harms of screening and treatment. “A PSA test may result in a false positive, leading to an unnecessary biopsy or treatment,” officials said.
Recognize and manage stress.
“As with physical symptoms, men tend to downplay or ignore the symptoms of stress, depression or anxiety, and yet ongoing mental health issues can cause sleep, heart and other physical health problems. An annual wellness exam should include an honest discussion about mental health and sleep quality, as well as strategies for mitigating stress,” officials said.