8 Simple Things Men Can Do to Improve Health

Carmen Roberts, MS, RD, LDN | Dec 8th 2016 Apr 10th 2017

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men in the United States have a lower life expectancy than women but are far less likely to seek preventative health care. Here are simple things men can do to decrease the risk of chronic disease and take action to stay healthy.

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Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

More than a third of American adults are obese, putting us at increased risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. It is especially important for men to maintain a healthy weight, as they typically gain weight around their mid-section and this “apple-shaped” body type increases risk for diabetes and heart disease.

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Exercise often

Men need at least 2.5 hours of moderately-intense aerobic activity each week. Men should also participate in muscle strength training exercises at least two days a week to build and maintain lean body mass, which can boost metabolism.  The benefits of exercise are numerous, including stress reduction, improved sleep, and weight loss.

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Get more sleep

An estimated 50-70 million U.S. adults have some type of sleep disorder. Adult males should make getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night a priority. Lack of proper sleep has been linked to chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression.

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Limit alcohol intake

Men are more likely than women to drink excessively. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon in men. If you do drink, limit your intake to no more than two alcoholic beverages per day. This includes 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

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Don’t smoke

If you do smoke, it’s never too late to quit.  By quitting you will lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. If you aren’t a smoker, avoid second-hand smoke, which has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

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Get regular health check-ups

Most men wait until they are sick or have an injury to see a physician. Routine physicals (at least every 2-3 years) can help with early intervention for disease treatment and prevention. Simple screening tests for diabetes, eye disease, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels can help identify health concerns before they become a bigger problem.

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Limit sun exposure

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Though most types of skin cancer, if found early, are treatable, melanoma can be deadly. The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that more men than women will die from melanoma. Avoid tanning beds, apply sunscreen, and wear clothing and hats that protect your skin from the sun.

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Make cancer screening a priority

Each year, more than 300,000 men die from cancer. Cancer is the second highest cause of death for men. The most common types of cancers found in men are colorectal, lung, prostate, and skin. An annual skin check, rectal exam, and other screenings such as a colonoscopy and fecal occult blood test can help to detect these types of cancers early.