When it comes to wellness, men have a poor track record of going to the doctor compared to women. In fact, according to the CDC, approximately 80 percent of men are less likely than women to see a doctor for regular checkups. Chances are, many men avoid prioritizing their well-being because they think that taking control of their health will feel like a full-time job. They don't realize that becoming a health hero—or someone who makes their health a priority—is a transformative process that doesn't have to mean monumental change! It's about making simple choices that help a person become powerful and purposeful—I'm talking minor behavioral changes that can bring tremendous rewards while conveniently fitting into a normal daily routine.
Men, it's time to step up. In addition to seeing your doctor for annual physicals and essential screenings, you can easily improve your health and prevent illness by implementing small and effective life changes. Below are my top recommendations for men of all ages:
20s and 30s:
For my male patients in their 20s and 30s, I recommend the following screenings: blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, depression, weight, and testicular cancer.
What to eat: Get enough (but not too much) protein. Balance lean protein with healthy carbs to help build muscle, bone, and strong connective tissues.
How to move: Build your fitness foundation by focusing on strength training and cardio. Can't afford a fancy gym membership in your 20s? Consider hiking, team sports, or anything that gets you purposefully moving.
Self-care tip: Learn to manage stress. Meditation, yoga, and time in nature will set the stage for long-term success.
I always screen my 40-something male patients for the following: kidney function, circulatory disease, type l diabetes, and coronary disease.
What to eat: Adjust your caloric intake to offset a slower metabolism. Reduce inflammation with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, mackerel, and herring.
How to move: Decreasing testosterone and increasing fat accumulation puts you at greater risk for disease. Fight back with a simple strength-training regimen that preserves lean muscle mass; dumbbells or using your own body weight as resistance does the trick. Yoga and walking or jogging are also perfect for 40-somethings.
Self-care tip: Get intimate. Intimacy with your partner means less stress, more relaxation, and a boost of oxytocin (the "love hormone") for a happier you.
If you're a man in your 50s, it's important that you get screened for colon cancer, prostate cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
What to eat: Disease-fighting foods including salmon, cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, garlic, and calcium-rich choices like sardines and kale.
How to move: Improve strength, balance, posture and joint mobility with lunges, pushups, and planks. They're low-impact, and a few quick sets are easy to fit into your day.
Self-care tips: Get good sleep. A good eight hours of sleep nightly will result in more alertness, optimism, and energy. Well-rested people are happy people.
I test all my 60-plus male patients for osteoporosis.
What to eat: Whole, nutrient-rich foods that help reduce inflammation and promote good digestion.
How to move: A mix of strength training and cardio is ideal, so mix it up to get the best rewards. Start with a stretch to protect from injury. Think walking, swimming, rowing, tai chi, or biking.
Self-care tip: Spend time with your tribe. Connection and social support are crucial to your mental health and give you that needed boost.
70s and above:
Dementia is my No. 1 concern for male patients over 70.
What to eat: Mood-boosting foods that also prevent diseases and promote brain health. Aim for a balance of some protein mixed with complex carbs like oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.
How to move: You may not be able to run a marathon, but you have options! Stay fit and keep osteoporosis at bay with stretching, tai chi ,and squats using a chair for support. You'll maintain muscle mass and core stability (important for reducing your risk of a fall). And don't forget swimming, biking, and gardening, which are all great physical activity!
Self-care tip: Those with a sense of purpose are the happiest and healthiest. Find a reason to begin each day with joy and purpose!
Healthy living can be easy and convenient. I encourage you to get empowered about your health and make simple choices every day that will lead to better health, more fulfillment, and a more joyful life at any age.
Ready to learn more about men's health? Here are the secrets of the male sex drive and why men should care about their hormone health, too.
Partha Nandi, M.D., is a creator and host of the internationally syndicated, award-winning medical lifestyle television show, Ask Dr. Nandi, and author of the upcoming book Ask Dr. Nandi: 5 Steps to Becoming Your Own #HealthHero for Longevity, Well-Being, and a Joyful Life (available September 12, 2017). For more information, visit askdrnandi.com.