This month is Men's Health Month. We've already covered some of the biggest risks to men's health—today we're going to give some tips on how you can reduce some of those risks. Here are some simple steps that you can take to minimize the chances that you might develop some serious issues later on.
Get Moving Every Day
Living an active lifestyle is more than just committing getting up and getting to the gym for 30 minutes a day—especially if you find yourself being sedentary the rest of the day. The Journal of American Medical Associations recommended adults get around 300 minutes of moderate exercise a week—averaging just over 40 minutes a day. Breaking up those 40 minutes into 10 minutes intervals over the course of the day makes that goal much more achievable.
So, park in the parking spot furthest away from the grocery store entrance, or opt to take the stairs over the escalator. Instead of hunching over your phone during lunch, listen to a podcast on your headphones while walking around the block. Walk the dog around the neighborhood instead of letting him out in the fenced-in backyard. Get your friends involved—before meeting up for a beer after work, meet up at the park instead and kick around a soccer ball.
Make Healthier Eating Choices
Making better decisions about what we eat doesn't have to mean sticking to a strict and taxing diet. In fact, dieting can actually make it very difficult to make long-term healthier eating decisions because they lead us into an unsustainable eating style. A more realistic way to achieve your healthier eating goals might be to slowly replace unhealthy foods for healthier ones.
For example, take the bag of cookies out of the shopping cart this weekend and replace it with a bunch of grapes, replacing that as your go-to after dinner snack. Drink your coffee black instead of picking up a sugary and high fat latte. Eat red meat less, and increase the amount of lean protein in your diet like poultry or fish. Finally, replace highly processed grains with whole grains - quinoa and brown rice are flexible options that square up a variety of meals.
Meet up with your friends
Heart disease is the biggest threat to men's health, and studies have shown a link to social isolation and heart disease. Those of us who had fewer social connections were more likely to develop some cardiovascular issues. That means that hanging out with your buddies is an easy way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
There are plenty of ways to accomplish this. As mentioned before, exercising with your friends is a great way to take down two birds with one stone, but it's by no means the only way to check this off the list. If you've got a busy schedule, consider making an effort to eat meals together on the weekends, or invite friends to do activities that you'd normally do solo. Make an effort to text someone every day—you might be surprised at how easy it is to find time together if you are willing to be the one to initiate contact.
Get enough sleep
Research has shown that seven to eight hours of sleep a night is the ideal amount for most people, and receiving less than that can have detrimental effects on your overall heart health. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep is linked to high blood pressure, Type-2 diabetes, and obesity—all factors that can do serious damage to a man's health.
Staying healthy takes more than just one or two tips, of course. It requires an outlook and a commitment to taking small steps every day. Augusta Health is here to support you as you take those steps. For more information about the risks to men's health, contact your primary care provider.