In recognition of Men’s Health Week (June 9-14), Christopher Rhody, MD, a primary care physician at West Hills Family Practice–UPMC, offers tips to make the most of each decade of life. Check out this infographic and read the article below to learn more about our Men’s Health Tips.
Celebrate Men’s Health Week by sharing this with all the men in your life to make health a priority!
In your 20s…
In this age group, two important things to pay attention to are your diet and the amount of exercise you get every day. During this decade it is important for males to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, as they will influence their health behaviors later in life. For exercise, running or jogging is a good option for most young males. If running is not an option, then a two-mile walk at a brisk pace is sufficient. If you use supplements to enhance your workouts, be mindful of the ingredients.
Many people in their 20s live a very active and on-the-go lifestyle that can make eating healthy difficult. Dr. Rhody’s rule of thumb when eating on the go is, “If they can get it to you in less than 15 minutes, don’t eat it.” Men in this stage of life may consider their diet as healthy if they are following the nutritional guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This means for each meal, at least half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, and the other half should include equal portions of whole grains and lean protein.
Dr. Rhody also points out, “What happens in your 20s effects you in your 50s.” An example of this is men who experience health difficulties later in life due to their prolonged time in the sun early in life. It is important to take care of your skin at any age by avoiding tanning beds and using sunscreen and protective measures, such as wearing sunglasses or a hat to help prevent the risk of skin cancer later on in life.
Also during this stage, males tend to lose weight much easier but it will not always be that way. As men age, their ability to lose weight easily and quickly will decrease. Practice healthy habits early on and abide by them throughout your lifetime.
In your 30s…
Dr. Rhody stresses the importance of scheduling regular visits to your primary care physician for routine check-ups and testing during this decade. Many men in their 30s do not feel like they have the time or the need to go to the doctor because they feel fine. Whether or not you feel perfectly healthy, routine tests can help uncover hidden health problems. Your primary care physician can help determine what type of testing is best suited for you.
Exercise and diet become even more crucial for men in their 30s because of the likelihood of significant lifestyle changes that can accompany this decade. Many men are working longer hours, getting married, or raising a family so some of their healthy lifestyle habits can fall by the wayside. It is important to make sure you exercise daily. Males in their 30s need a longer, more sustained period of exercise, rather than short bursts of activity such as chasing their children around the yard.
Dr. Rhody encourages men to not become sedentary as they go through this period in their lives. It’s also important to concentrate more on their diet than they may have before, even if daily exercise is not always possible. Men’s ability to control their weight decreases with age, so it becomes even more important to make sure you are making healthy, nutritious choices for your meals.
In your 40s…
Similar to your 30s, Dr. Rhody urges men in their 40s visit the doctor on a regular basis. This is the age when men may begin to experience prostate or heart problems. Consulting your doctor to help determine the appropriate testing may help to catch problems early and before they become more serious health concerns.
A proper diet continues to be very important and has several health benefits for men in their 40s. Males should eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and be mindful of serving size. Follow the basic rule of “all things in moderation,” and remember that a serving size is approximately the size of a deck of cards. If getting the recommended two cups of fruits and three cups of vegetables a day is a challenge, try taking a multivitamin to help you get the proper vitamins and nutrients. It is also especially important for men in this age group to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, as it has numerous benefits for your skin, waistline, and overall health.
Exercise is key at any stage of a man’s life, and the 40s are no different. As men age, especially those who have been very active, joint pain and stiffness may increase and can start to slow some men down. Daily exercise is preferred, but listening to your body’s limits is essential. If other exercise becomes challenging a two-mile walk is recommended. Dr. Rhody suggests walking at a pace “fast enough so that when you are talking while walking, you feel the need to take a deep breath after speaking.”
In your 50s…
Dr. Rhody urges men of this decade to work with their doctors to develop the health plan that’s best for them. This may include screenings, tests, and assessments. Be sure to ask if a colonoscopy is right for you and talk about ways to maintain diet and exercise routines.
As you advance into your 50s, Dr. Rhody offers the following tips to maintain a healthy diet:
- Cut out unnecessary sugars
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Pay attention to your choices regarding alcohol type because these calories can quickly add up
Men in their 50s should also focus on incorporating new activities into their lifestyles. Don’t let the stiffness that comes with aging prevent you from exercising. Consider changing up your fitness routine to include joint-friendly options like swimming (around 20 laps a day), biking (10 miles daily), or simply adjusting your pace on walks.
In your 60s…
In addition to maintaining some level of physical activity, Dr. Rhody recommends focusing on mental adjustments to the life changes this decade brings. Continue to stay active and busy if and when you have retired from your regular career or job. To keep your mind active, consider the following tips:
- Read more
- Join clubs and senior leagues
- Take leadership roles in your organizations
If possible, integrate physical activity into your routines. Contrary to common belief, you do not have to slow down at this age. Dr. Rhody cautions that becoming sedentary at this age could be detrimental..
Don’t worry if you have not previously been physically active. Tai Chi, Yoga, and other fitness programs that focus on stretching can provide many health benefits. Remember to hydrate before, during, and after workouts to help prevent injuries.
Actively manage your health at this age. Keep records of your appointments, medications, and symptoms. Stay current on tests, screenings, and assessments.
In your 70s and beyond…
Men in their 70s should take care to keep the home environment safe. Vision often deteriorates as we age so be sure to remove loose rugs, sharp edges, and other health and safety hazards. Consider adding safety handles in the bathroom and signing up for medical monitoring services. If living alone, consider welcoming a small pet into your household.
Dr. Rhody emphasizes the importance of centralizing your medical care with primary care physicians. Keep records of your medications and side effects but remember primary care physicians can be used as your health care hub to help you stay informed about your health care needs.