With so much going on around us, it becomes hard to maintain some of our routines. Even as a doctor, I too have recently lagged on workouts, my diet and health checkups. Our health is important, but many men place it on the backburner until a more serious health issue surfaces. This is the wrong approach to good health. Believe it or not, men are likely to live five years less than women. Plus, men are 100 percent less likely to go see a doctor when needed.
It’s time to prioritize our health. If you’re ready to make lasting changes that can help you get healthy and stay healthy, follow these six pieces of advice to fine-tune your health.
#1 Make Health a Top Priority
Close your eyes and think about all the cool things you want to accomplish this year. Where was health on the list?
Your health should be your number one priority, but we often get so busy with our careers and families that we overlook it. We think we’re invincible or that we have such a good medical system that any health issue can be addressed with a pill or surgery. We also forget that mental health is just as important as physical health.
Making your health a priority isn’t selfish — it’s selfless. Why? Because the healthier you are, the healthier and more engaged you’ll be with your family, friends and career. Several studies show the healthier a person is mentally and physically, the more they can achieve. Before you do anything else, prepare yourself for a mindset shift and prioritize what is most important.
#2 See Your Doctor
Everyone should see a doctor regularly. I hear men come in with a variety of excuses for not going to the doctor sooner. “It takes too long to get in” or “I have no time” are common ones. However, these don’t hold up anymore. With telehealth, you can get a consultation with a doctor without stepping foot in an office. They can even order labs and prescribe some medications. Several options for in-person visits exist as well. More practices and clinics are even offering same-day appointments to see your healthcare professional.
Just like you always have a friend to call when you’re in need, when it comes to your body, you always need a friend you can call too — in this case it should be a healthcare provider. There are guidelines based on your age for when you should see a doctor for certain health issues. Rather than just search online for solutions, schedule a regular visit with your doctor. They will put you on the right path to getting your routine screenings completed.
#3 Refrain From Bad Health Habits
Smoking, drinking excess alcohol, engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors and poor communication can lead to health problems. Whether it’s a cigarette or vaping, smoking is still bad for you. Future complications from smoking can include not only cancer but erectile dysfunction.
Heavy drinking can lower testosterone levels and increase estrogen levels. Alcohol also is a depressant, which can dampen mood and sexual desire, making it difficult to achieve orgasms.
Men often struggle with communication when they have problems. This is why it's important to start communicating better with key individuals like your partner, best friend or doctor.
#4 Get Moving
The American Heart Association is one of several health organizations that recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. Most people get a smartwatch and walk their 10,000 steps a day and think it’s enough. While it is good, you still have to engage in activity that gets your heartrate up. Get moderate exercise (power walking, jogging or swimming) for 150 minutes or vigorous exercise (intense cardio or muscle-strengthening activities) for at least 75 minutes a week, whether it’s on the weekend or throughout the day. When you get your heart pumping, your muscles and other parts of your body also will get stronger.
#5 Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Most people start dieting by focusing on restricting calories. Most of the time, they aren’t eating enough. When you limit your nutrient intake, your body starts going into conservation or starvation mode. It’s taking whatever you put in it and saving it for later.
Instead, take in more of the right calories, and you’ll be stronger and healthier. What’s more, your body won’t feel deprived. If you’re not sure where to begin, I recommend seeing a nutritionist, at least to get you started on what changes to make since there are many different diets.
Remember, dieting is not starving — it’s smart eating, so focus on making the right food choices.
#6 Get Enough Sleep
You should get at least seven hours of sleep a night to help your mind and body relax and rejuvenate. The time to do this isn’t when you’re sitting on the couch watching TV. The only way to reset is with your eyes closed, comfortably sleeping in bed, naturally going through your sleep cycles. A great way to help with your sleep is by avoiding exposure to TV, phone and computer screens an hour before retiring. Sleep is vital to your body’s ability to adapt to stress and change.
Often patients come into my office with fatigue or libido issues. They think it’s a thyroid or low-testosterone problem, but it’s often due to lack of sleep. Either they’re working too much, stressed out or drinking too much alcohol, which stimulates the brain. In some cases, sleep can be the root cause or contributing factor to a health issue, so getting enough rest can help your body heal.
Good health should be a priority for every man, but sometimes we don’t give it the importance it deserves. As fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, cousins and friends, we need to take charge of our health — if not for our sake, then for the sake of those we love. There’s just no excuse for putting your health at the very bottom of your to-do list. Let’s get back on the train together. Destination? Better health!
Are you wondering how an Orlando Health physician can help you?
With a healthy lifestyle and regular health screenings, you can reduce your risk for heart disease, certain cancers and other illnesses. Our men’s health specialists can tell you how to take care of yourself and recommend the health screenings you need based on your age, personal risk factors and family medical history.