I wouldn’t say that health tips are one of the most common conversations amongst guys. ‘Jack, what’s the condition of your prostate?’ Is something I’ve never heard around a braai. Thankfully, this ostrich-like tendency to avoid topics of health and wellness is on the wane. More and more men are visiting their doctors for routine health checks, taking symptoms seriously and living a healthy lifestyle. Hopefully, this ends up improving our life expectancy, which is five years less than women. But there are further steps we can take to ensure we’re as healthy as can be;
1. Find a Good Practitioner
Many men don’t report problems to their doctors that affect them, due to fear of judgement or embarrassment. The older you get the more issues you’re likely to face so find a practitioner (allopathic or alternative) you’re comfortable with and can openly discuss all aspects of your health, from your mental state to your sexual function to your overall wellness.
2. Get Regular Check-ups
Just because you feel healthy doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Going to your health care provider for regular checkups might just save your life. Be sure to check your cholesterol and blood pressure. If they’re not within normal ranges, follow your practitioner’s advice. And don’t ignore things like dark stools, vision loss, difficulty urinating or chest pain.
3. Eat For Your Heart Health
The bad news is that heart disease is one of the leading causes for death in men. The good news is that it’s one of the health issues we know how to influence with diet. You can give your heart some TLC by doing three things. Firstly, eat a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Secondly, eliminate ‘empty’ foods from your diet. White carbohydrates like pasta and rice are a great place to start cutting out, and switching to whole grain versions of these products may not be as painful as you think. And lastly, cut out trans-fats and boost your intake of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and wild-caught salmon that contain compounds that may help to improve blood lipids and provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
4. Maintain Your Weight
Hate to say it fellas but the battle of the bulge matters. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You’ll look better, feel better and reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other major killers. I know this is easier said than done, but if you follow the eating tips above, you’ll be well on your way.
5. Check Your Prostate
Guys, the latexed finger is your friend. As you grow older, the prostate gland enters a growth spurt of sorts. This can result in new symptoms such as more frequent night-time urinating. This could be caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia, and there are lots of treatment options available. But it could be more serious so it’s important your prostate is monitored as you grow older. Any symptoms such as urgency or incontinence should be reported to your practitioner, who can take it from there and offer you reassurance and treatment guidance if needed.
6. Keep Your Eye on the Ball(s)
If an enlarging prostate should be the concern of an older man, the condition of your testicles is where it’s at for the younger man. Surprisingly, most cases of testicular cancer occur in young men between 20-39 years. Making a habit of checking your testicles (perhaps following a shower) regularly can help you to spot any unusual lumps or bumps that should be investigated. Things to look out for are any unusual rashes, lumps or redness, pain when peeing, or discharge from the tip of the penis.
7. Get Moving
The good news is that research shows that just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can help improve your health. Taking a walk, jogging, swimming and mowing the lawn all count.
8. Take it Easy on the Alcohol
I know, I know, these inconvenient truths are coming in hard and fast. Meeting up with friends for a couple of drinks at the end of a long day or week can be a great way to relax. But many men fall into the trap of consuming far too much alcohol in one sitting, without realising the long term effects of their binge drinking. Strive for moderation.
9. Maintain Your Sexual Function
Most cases of erectile dysfunction have an underlying physical cause. The main cause is lack of blood flow to the area in question, which can be a result of physical illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease. This is why it’s so important to grit your teeth and raise this distressing issue with your practitioner, who will be well versed in dealing with problems like these. Seeking professional help for this issue can potentially identify serious underlying conditions that you may not know you have, and restore your sexual function into the bargain, so you’re a winner all round!
10. Mind Your Mind
Did you know men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women, which is thought to be due to under-diagnosed depression? Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety are rife amongst men, and if ignored can have devastating consequences on your quality of life. Sometimes, men who feel that they have no one to turn to cope with their feelings by drinking too much, overeating, developing a short temper, or engaging in risky behaviours. If you’re feeling low, for whatever reason, reach out – there’s lots of non-judgemental and experienced help available.
11. Prioritize Sleep
Sleep deprivation runs rampant in our on-the-go society, yet it’s one of the easiest ways to promote good health. Try to get at least seven hours. That’s not something you should compromise on. The effects of sleep deprivation are many and varied, and running a sleep deficit has a direct impact on your ability to focus and concentrate on tasks, your mood and your physical health.
12. Maintain Close Relationships
Everything is connected. Having close ties with others is key to maintaining good mental health, which is key to having good physical health. Phone a friend, take up those invitations and don’t be afraid to open yourself up to new friendships at any stage of your life. The bond of friendship, with a close partner or buddies, has a hard-to-measure benefit in your life.
13. Safety First
Whether it’s pulling out the lawn mower, going for a bike ride or moving some furniture, safety is key. And remember, lift with your legs boys!
14. Learn to Manage Stress
Many men define themselves by their careers, which can raise stress levels. Over time, stress can take a toll on your emotional and physical health. Notice early warning signs of stress, such as irritability, tension in your shoulders and neck, grinding your teeth or clenching your hands into fists, and find healthy ways to de-stress (for example; exercise, meditation or massage).
15. Maintain Mental Fitness
Practice mental exercises, like puzzles and reading, and take steps to learn new things. These activities have been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s and maintain brain function.
16. Live a Little
Take time every day to do something you enjoy. Spend time with friends, play sports, work with your hands, play music, read, make art or cook. And limit screen time. Try to have more face to face time with family and friends.