Are you living life like a spring chicken, pecking and powerful in your prime? Or are you feeling sluggish like a ready-for-retirement rooster? Surprisingly, this has less to do with your actual age and more about the choices you make for your health. Lucky cluck!

Still, we know it’s hard to put yourself first when work pressure, financial needs, and family demands pile up. So we’ve created some simple to-do’s so men can take care of themselves better—every step of the way.

Must-Do’s (and Don’t’s)

Don’t expect to get a lot out of your body if you’re not putting the right things into your body. The biggest mistake men make? They don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. The USDA says for each meal, half of your plate should be covered with them! The other half: equal parts lean protein and whole grains.

Focus on foods that are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. If you’re on the go, skip the fast food drive-through—fatty, fried or sugary foods are the worst. Instead pack nuts, low-fat yogurt or cheese, or a salad. Sneak veggies into homemade smoothies to pack an extra punch. At dinnertime, add beans, other legumes, and fish to spice up that cooking routine.

By eating lower-calorie, nutrient-dense food through the day, your mental and physical capabilities will improve. So will your body mass index, which measures body fat in relation to your height. “Normal weight” men are in the range of 18.5–24.9.

Drinking enough water each day is also key to maintaining health, energy level and mood. Experts say 125 ounces, or about a gallon, is a good target.* Speaking of drinking, when you’re in the mood for alcohol, wine or beer, make sure you’re keeping it in moderation: no more than two drinks per day.** Always avoid smoking cigarettes.

Every man—young or old, large or small—must make exercise part of their routine. The CDC pushes for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise a week and muscle-strengthening activities at least two other days. Go for a run, ride your bike, or sign up for a new sport or outdoor hobby. Cardio workouts are best for losing weight, busting stress and improving sleep. Muscle strength, flexibility and balance activities will keep you toned and limber.

Prioritize 7-9 hours of sleep a night. If your mind races with worry, try mindful breathing exercises a few minutes a day and before bedtime. See a doctor for check-ups and when you’re sick. You should have your blood pressure checked at least once every other year. Finally, as the headlines made clear this year: don’t skip your annual flu shot.

Exploring your 20s and 30s

Start with the advice above to stick to a healthy diet. Planning meals before your weekly shopping trip is the key to success. Use your age to your advantage in the gym and on the field: you’re at peak potential for endurance and fitness. So push it real good! Increase intensity of workouts, shoot for high heartrates, and mix in plenty of weights and strength training. Your body is primed to see results.

Did you know testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men age 15 to 34? Do self-exams and then talk to a doctor if you notice anything strange. If you’re sexually active, especially with multiple partners, get screened at least once a year for STDs. All men should get tested for HIV at least once.

Starting at 35, it’s important to have your cholesterol tested. If you have high blood pressure, heart disease in the family, or other cardiac risk factors like obesity, start getting checked by 25 years old. There are overlapping risk factors here with Type 2 diabetes, so also ask a doctor if a blood sugar test could help you.

Maturing into your 40s and 50s

Mid-life conjures up the image of a man in a new red sports car. The good news is, research found that “mid-life crisis” is not a common phase for most men. But this time of life does bring daily pressures and stressors that mount: financial needs of aging children, hectic schedules, career disappointments. Stay attuned to feelings of joy and sadness in your life. Take time for hobbies and if you are lacking passion or motivation, talk to a therapist who can help.

At this stage of life, metabolism naturally slows, and cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and weight gain go up. Keep them under control with a healthy diet and exercise. Men tend to lose muscle around this age, so continue with a workout routine that mixes cardio and strength. Add in high-intensity intervals to workouts to help protect your arteries. Heart disease is the number one killer of men aged 45-54.

At 50, it’s time to discuss options for colon cancer screening with a doctor. Men usually start with a colonoscopy, which they get every 10 years, but yearly stool tests and other studies are out there to consider. Regular prostate cancer screenings called PSA tests may be right for you by age 50—or earlier if you are at risk.

Finding fulfillment in your 60s and beyond

Keep that body moving! The CDC recommends aerobic exercise 30 minutes at least day five days a week. If your joints are achy, do lower-impact workouts. Studies show that men in their 60s and 70s who strength train regularly have muscles that look and perform as well as inactive men in their 20s and 30s.***

Exercise also boosts brain function. Keep the juices flowing by reading, doing crossword puzzles, trying new hobbies, and socializing. Staying physically and mentally active will help prevent cognitive decline.

Continue the colon and prostate cancer screenings your doctor recommends. If you ever smoked, you may want an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) ultrasound test between 65 and 75 to make sure your aorta is healthy.

Get a yearly flu shot, and the shingles vaccine once you turn 60. At 65, the CDC says to get pneumonia vaccines.

With a little effort behind the right plan, healthy choices turn into solid routines. Our approach will help you stay sharp and strong as you age. Teladoc is here 24 hours, 7 days a week for every medical problem along the way—from the sensitive to the simple, and everything in between.

 

* http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=10925

** https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-9/

*** https://www.aarp.org/health/longevity/info-2007/strength_training.html

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