According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, men are far more likely to skip routine health screens than women.
"It's common for men to avoid going to the doctor until there's a serious health concern," says primary care physician James Heckman, MD, Assistant Medical Director of Healthcare Associates at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). "Staying healthy may just be a matter of changing habits."
1. See your doctor
It happens to everyone. Some health challenges come on with age. Family history plays a big part in what a physician will focus on, but there are key issues and screenings that are age-related. "Seeing your doctor regularly means that you have a baseline for important screenings," says Heckman. "This includes everything from cholesterol to cancer screenings and osteoporosis."
2. Eat a healthy diet
You've heard this before. A diet that's low in fat and full of fruits and vegetables can help lower the risk of certain cancers, such as prostate cancer. "For good prostate health, eat your fruits and veggies," says Aria Olumi, MD, Chief of Urologic Surgery at BIDMC.
3. Quit smoking
Smoking and bladder cancer? Yes. We know that smoking is harmful to your heart and lungs—but it's also linked to about half of all bladder cancer cases. "Bladder cancer risk factors like age, gender, race and family history can't be controlled," Olumi says. "But quitting smoking can definitely lower your risk."
4. Get enough sleep
A good night's rest can do wonders. Overstimulation of the brain, stress, and a lack of sleep can cause overall fatigue and libido issues. "Lower testosterone levels may contribute to these issues, but more often than not, it's because the patient isn't getting enough sleep," Olumi says. "At least seven hours of sleep a night will help your mind and body reset."
5. Take care of your mental health
Did you know mental and physical health are connected? Mental illness affects both men and women, but men may be less likely to talk about their feelings and seek help. "Mental health symptoms often appear to be physical issues—like a racing heart, tightening chest, ongoing headaches or digestive issues," Heckman says. "Talking to a professional or a loved one about stress or other challenges can be very helpful."
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