Men’s Health Through The Decades

Nobody’s invincible, but there are ways to live a healthier, happier life well into your 70s and 80s. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that the average life expectancy for an American male is 76 years old. Who wants to spend years worrying about health issues when many can be prevented?

Your quality of life depends largely on how well you take care of yourself.  For best results, follow these general guidelines for each decade.

In your 20s

Schedule that yearly physical: An annual checkup is a chance for your physician to identify potential problems at the onset.  Your doctor will check your blood pressure, cholesterol and other vitals to make sure everything is working as it should be.

Develop healthy habits: Establishing a healthy routine of exercise, sleep and a good diet in your 20s can lead to better health in your later years. Meanwhile, it’s important to ditch some of those less healthy routines, such as smoking and drinking.

Get checked for STDs: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 20 million sexually transmitted infections and diseases are spread every year in the United States, and as many as one in two sexually active people will contract an STD by the time they are 25. That’s why it’s important to get checked out as soon as possible. An undiagnosed STD can put you and your partner in danger, leading to long-term health issues and pregnancy complications.

In your 30s

Know your risk of cancer: The American Cancer Society states that men in the United States have slightly less than a 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing cancer. Since it is likely cancer will become a problem at some point in your life, it’s important to educate yourself on the types that could affect you.  Men in their 30s should be screened routinely for cancer of the thyroid, testicles, mouth, skin, and lymph nodes.

Stay active: While life is often busy focusing on your job and family during your 30s, it’s important to find time to focus on your body’s fitness. Running/walking around the neighborhood, participating in a community game of basketball, and working out at the gym are just a few ways to give yourself an energy boost, and keep those important muscles active.

Love your heart: The 30s are an important decade to focus on your heart health. The American Heart Association recommends making heart-healthy living a family affair. Including the spouse and kids in activities such as exploring the park, walking the dog, planning a backyard garden, or cooking meals as a family are just a few ways to keep your hearts strong and healthy together.

In your 40s

Schedule your eye exam: In their 40s, many men may start to experience problems with their sight—especially the ability to see clearly at close range while reading or sitting at the computer. Be sure to schedule your eye exam as recommended by the American Optometric Association — every two years (if you’re without symptoms or risk) or annually if you’re at risk or over age 60.

Begin a fitness routine: Men often lose muscle mass as they age. To keep a healthy, sturdy weight, engage in physical activity such as running, walking or hiking.

Manage your stress: Properly managing your stress as it relates to financial problems and family concerns can help prevent long-term illness such as cardiovascular disease—the number on killer of men in their late 40s and early 50s, according to the American Heart Association. Be sure to talk about your stress with someone you feel comfortable around.

In your 50s

Stay informed about your prostate health: Depending on your background and family history, now may be a good time to get screened for prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, men who are at average risk of prostate cancer should begin discussing the screening with their provider at age 50. Men should be tested with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test; a digital rectal exam may also be done.

Check for diabetes: Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult onset diabetes, is a disease involving high blood-sugar levels and increases your risk for heart disease, blindness, erectile dysfunction and nerve and kidney damage. Men in their 50s should be screened every three years for diabetes.

Get screened for colon cancer: Because colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., it is important for men to get tested annually, beginning at age 50. Colon cancer doesn’t always display symptoms and early detection is your best bet.

In your 60s

Know your mental health state: It’s important to surround yourself with people you love and participate in hobbies you enjoy to alleviate sadness or depression as you get older. Depression may go undiagnosed in older folks, so get screened if you are experiencing unwanted thoughts or feelings.

Exercise your brain: To aid in the prevention of dementia or Alzheimer’s, keep your brain active with mind workouts and crossword puzzles. Proper diet and physical exercise are additional ways to keep your brain healthy.

Build your bones: Osteoporosis affects both men and women in their 60s and 70s. Combat brittle bones by eating a variety of calcium-rich foods, incorporating leafy greens into your diets and getting lots of vitamin D. Don’t forget to exercise and keep a healthy weight as well.

No matter how healthy you feel at any stage in life, these guidelines are great for preventative measures. Talk to your doctor about ways to stay healthy or get back on the road to wellness.