Remember when you thought you were invincible? I’m talking about your 20’s, not the last time you had sex after using your bottle of Revactin. We all tend to get a bit delusional after a quality bedroom rodeo but think back to when you believed you would live forever.
As we grow older, the realization hits that we can no longer ignore the issues we thought only happened to old guys. These are the five most preventable health issues killing men every year.
- Cardiovascular disease – heart attacks and stroke are the number one killer of men over 40. In the U.S., roughly 1 in 3 adult men have some form of heart disease. This disease hits African-American men especially hard, with 100,000 more deaths than Caucasians.
- Cancer – specifically skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., with men contracting the disease twice the rate of women.
- Depression – both the suicide rate and the number of men on anti-depressants is steadily rising in the U.S. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 6 million men suffer from depression. Males are three times as likely to die by suicide than females.
- Addiction – alcohol abuse is the most common form of addiction in men over forty in the U.S. The CDC reports that approximately 22% of men binge drink an average of 5 times per month.
- Diabetes – type 2 is the third leading cause of death in America and probably the most preventable. The main contributor to type 2 diabetes is obesity, and men are twice as likely to suffer a limb amputation related to a diabetic condition.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that these health issues are considered lifestyle diseases and preventable. Prevention might involve stepping outside of your comfort zone slightly but doesn’t require eating tofu and drinking a kale smoothie on your way to Pilates class.
The biggest obstacle most of us face is the delusion of our lack of time to eat more healthily. We think that we’re way too busy to take a few minutes for a decent meal and decide to hit a drive-thru window. The CDC says that a full third of Americans eat fast food daily.
Our fast-food addiction is at the heart of the obesity epidemic and responsible for a massive daily intake of calories, fat, and sodium. Here’s the interesting part of our fast-food dilemma – people say they want healthy options but never order it when given a choice.
It’s not that hard to eat better. A general rule to improve your eating habits immediately is never to eat anything that comes through a window or served in a bag.
As we’ve transitioned from a physical, manual workforce to cubicle farms of desk jockeys staring at screens all day, our levels of physical activity suffered the consequences. If you show a man in his 80’s your new FitBit and tell him you’re tracking steps each day, he’ll shake his head in confusion.
A human body’s purpose is to move and be active. This sedentary lifestyle we’re all so comfortable living is killing us. Exercise benefits our physical and mental health. Physical activity strengthens our body and immune system while reducing anxiety and depression.
It’s not necessary to run out to the nearest CrossFit box and spend hours a day working out. Hell, you don’t even need to run to improve your fitness. Stand up from your desk and go for a walk on your lunch break. Rather than cramming into an elevator, try using the stairs every once and a while. Maybe park your car in the back of the lot instead of next to the handicapped spot.
Improving your health is not about becoming the next American Ninja Warrior, but you have to get your butt off the sofa, at least.
When did we decide that it’s a badge of honor only to get four hours of sleep every night? The media loves a football coach who sleeps in his office during the season or, more recently, the guy reporting election results for 72 straight hours.
Sleep is vital to your health! If you’re not getting 7-9 hours of restorative sleep per night, your body and brain won’t perform at their peak the following day. Lack of sleep weakens your immune, digestive, cardiovascular, respiratory, and endocrine systems.
Improving your sleep is the easiest and probably most effective way to reduce your risk to most health-related issues. Here’s all you need to do:
- Try to stick to the same sleep schedule every night, including weekends.
- Turn off all blue-light emitting devices at least 30 minutes before bed.
- Have comfortable sleep surroundings by blocking out all light and adjusting the thermostat to a cooler temperature.
A good night’s sleep is key to a productive day. We make a huge mistake when we sacrifice sleep to get things done.
We can sum up today’s society with a single word – MORE. We always seem to be wanting more of everything and can’t realize when we have enough. Why do we brag about how many beers we drank last night or chicken wings we ate for lunch? Remember the Big Gulp? That’s the small size at 7-Eleven today!
The last way to reduce our risk to the top five men’s health issues is to moderate our bad habits. We don’t need to stop drinking, cruising social media, watching TV, or eating greasy cheeseburgers. It’s a matter of doing less of your bad habits, not eliminating them.
If we want to improve our health for a long and happy life, it’s time to replace more with better. By merely eating better food, enjoying a better work/life balance, getting better quality sleep, and creating better habits, we can live a better, longer life.
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