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Men: Tips for a longer and healthier life

A middle-aged man jogging outside.

The formula for a healthier life? It's pretty simple: See your doctor regularly, eat right, stay active, watch your weight, don't smoke, and mind your mental health.

A long, healthy life. To many of us, it means having more meaningful years to spend with the ones we love and to enjoy the things we're passionate about.

And yet, when it comes to health-promoting strategies that could help us stretch out our lifespan, a lot of men could do better. Maybe that's one reason women on average live about five years longer than men.

The great news? Guys can increase their chance of living longer—and living better—in some pretty simple ways.

See your doctor regularly

That's something many men avoid—maybe because they don't think checkups are necessary as long as they're feeling fine.

But some diseases don't have symptoms until they get much worse. With regular checkups, these health problems may be found early, when they're easier to treat.

What you can do: Talk to your doctor about how often you should be examined and screened for health problems such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, sexually transmitted infections and various kinds of cancer. Your age, personal and family medical history, lifestyle, and other factors will help determine the schedule.

Don't smoke or chew

You've heard it a million times: Tobacco is hazardous for your health. Cancer, heart disease and lung disease are all linked to tobacco, and all of these problems can lead to a shorter lifespan.

What you can do: Talk to your doctor about quitting if you use tobacco. Your doctor can steer you toward help lines, medications, counseling and other forms of quitting support.

Find more tools to help you quit smoking by going to the Smoking health topic center or visiting smokefree.org.

Watch your weight

More and more men are allowing their weight to get out of control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and other health problems.

What you can do: Balance the calories you eat and drink with the amount of physical activity you get. (Calculate how many calories you need each day.)

Likewise, eating more plant-based foods—fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains—and less saturated fat can also help with weight control.

And when the urge to snack hits, grab a small apple or some carrot sticks instead of munching on chips or cookies.

Exercise often

Physical activity helps reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and colorectal cancer. And it can help you look and feel your best.

Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, along with muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

You could also choose 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (e.g., jogging or running) every week instead of moderate activity, or a mix of moderate and vigorous activity. Start slowly and work your way up.

What you can do: Brisk walking, swimming, mowing the lawn, using hand weights and bicycling are just some of the many activities you can pick from.

If you have a chronic health condition, talk with your doctor before increasing your exercise, CDC advises.

Mind your mental health

Too much daily stress can take a toll on your health. Having trouble sleeping, getting angry and drinking more than usual are some signs of stress overload in men.

Stress (as well as other factors) may also contribute to depression, a serious illness. Signs include persistent sadness, hopelessness, extreme tiredness and thoughts of suicide.

What you can do: Try healthy ways to ease stress, such as exercising and taking time out for hobbies and relaxing activities. If you think you might have depression, tell your doctor right away. Depression is treatable.

Reviewed 1/6/2021

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