When it comes to health, men and women are not on the same page. One reason is that men tend to lead less healthy lifestyles than women and take part in more risky behaviors. And women also tend to take better care of themselves when they get sick. But with health problems such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes looming, men need to take better care of themselves.
For years, men’s life expectancy has trailed behind that of women. While the gap has been closing recently, men are dying on average almost 5 years sooner than women. This difference is due in large part to men’s tendency toward accidental injuries both on and off the job. In general, more men participate in risky behaviors that put them in harm’s way. In addition, more men than women smoke and drink, factors that contribute to many health problems.
Getting hurt or sick is not the only reason why men are less healthy than women, however. Men are more likely than women to skip regular checkups and delay medical care.
Here are some of the most important things men can do to live a healthier, and maybe even longer, life:
Get screened. Screening tests can detect diseases early, when they are easier to treat. There are screening tests for obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, colorectal cancer, and diabetes. Men need to ask their healthcare providers which screening tests they need and when.
Don’t smoke. Tobacco damages the entire body.
Exercise. Try to get at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Break down the 150 minutes into as many smaller sessions as needed. And include muscle-strengthening exercises on at least two days of the week.
Eat a healthy diet. The best way to get all the nutrients the body needs is to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight contributes to many health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.
Go easy on the alcohol. Men should have no more than two drinks a day.