6 Steps Men Should Take For Their Health at Any Age

Most of us are familiar with the phrase, “man up”. It’s a nasty way of telling someone to stop complaining, and a reflection of the attitude that men should keep their worries to themselves. Unfortunately, this stigma has very real consequences when it comes to men’s health.

On a global scale, men die on average five years sooner than women, and it’s not only because men engage in more unhealthy behaviour. Men are also less open about their health than women, being more likely to skip their yearly check-ups and resist seeing a doctor until a problem gets serious.

According to the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, up to 70% of men’s health problems are preventable through lifestyle changes like better nutrition, more activity, and proper sleep. Below are six steps men of all ages can take today to protect their health and live longer, healthier lives.

1. Attend Regular Check-ups

It’s fair to say that no one, regardless of gender, is brimming with excitement about their yearly physical. But those regular check-ups can be crucial in preventing problems or catching them in the early, treatable stages.

Don’t skip the opportunity to touch base with your doctor and have them check your blood pressure, screen for high cholesterol, and perform other appropriate screening tests.

While there is lots of great information about healthy habits online, it can’t replace the personalized, well-informed advice your physician can provide. The doctor’s office should be your first stop on the route to making lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, modifying your diet, or adding exercise to your routine.

2. Ask About Cancer Screenings

Cancer is the leading cause of death for Canadian men. The three most common cancers among men are prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer, all which can be detected in early screenings.

Men should begin getting screened for prostate and colon cancer at age 50. However, depending on your health history, the doctor may recommend getting screened for cancer at an earlier age than most people — so it’s important to start asking now.

3. Get Screened for Diabetes

Diabetes is responsible for as many as 1 in 10 deaths in Canada, contributing to cardiovascular disease, renal failure, and a host of other health problems. For men in particular, diabetes is the sixth highest cause of mortality. But there is good news: it is possible to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes from developing, and those affected can take steps to improve their condition.

Most men should begin to get screened for diabetes starting at age 45, but those with additional risk factors can start earlier.

4. Drink Only In Moderation

Most Canadians drink responsibly, but not everyone stops to consider the effects it could have on their health.

Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Guidelines recommend that men drink no more than 15 alcoholic beverages per week or three per day (for women, it’s 12 per week and two per day). Limiting your alcohol intake reduces the risk of liver disease, which effects men twice as often as women.

Plus, drinking less can be a big help if you’re trying to lose weight — you would be surprised how many calories it cuts from your diet.

5. Speak Up About Your Mental Health

Though we have seen growing awareness and acceptance of mental health issues, it remains a blind spot for far too many Canadian men. Men are no less susceptible to the trials of depression and anxiety than women, and men in Canada are three times more likely to die from suicide.

Mental health is as important a health issue as any other. Make it a part of the next conversation with the doctor.

6. Use Local Health Resources

Don’t have a family doctor? That doesn’t have to stop you from taking these steps. Men of all ages can take advantage of free local, provincial and national health resources, including:

  • Health Care Connect: Helps you find a physician or healthcare provider who is accepting new patients in your community.
  • Telehealth Ontario: Connects you with a Registered Nurse, who can assess your health concerns advise you over the phone on the next steps you should take.

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