When it comes to health, men and women are not created equal. For one thing, men tend to lead less healthy lifestyles than women and take part in more risky behaviors. What’s more, women tend to take better care of themselves when they do get sick. But with health problems such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes looming, men need to take better care of themselves. Perhaps it’s time men took a page from the women’s health playbook.
The Difference Between the Sexes
For years, men’s life expectancy has trailed behind that of women. While the gap has been closing recently, men are dying on average almost five years sooner than women. This difference is due in large part to men’s tendency toward accidental injuries. In general, men participate in risky behaviors both on and off the job that put them in harm’s way. In addition, more men than women smoke and drink, factors that contribute to many health problems.
Getting hurt or sick is not the only reason why men are less healthy than women, however. Men are more likely than women to skip regular checkups and delay medical care.
What Men Can Do
According to research reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, men who take care of their health in midlife are more likely to live longer. Here are the most important things they can do:
- Get screened. Screening tests can detect diseases early, when they are easier to treat. There are screening tests for obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, colorectal cancer, and diabetes. Men need to ask their doctors which screening tests they need and when.
- Don’t smoke. Tobacco damages the entire body.
- Exercise. Men should get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.
- Eat a healthy diet. The best way to get all the nutrients the body needs is to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight contributes to many health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.
- Go easy on the alcohol. Men should have no more than two drinks a day.
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