Men’s health can be hard to define. According to the World Health Organization, health goes beyond the physical body and includes social and mental well-being. Good health isn’t the point of living–it’s a tool that helps you live your life.
You don’t have to rely on grand gestures like cutting out entire categories of food or waking up at 4:30 a.m. to work out to take charge of your health. Start by making small changes at the beginning. For example, getting a reusable water bottle you can refill throughout the day can help you drink more water. You can make a range of other low-key changes to your routine to get healthier, as well.
View our infographic at the bottom of this post for more information and tips on leading a healthier life.
1. Schedule a doctor’s visit
If you’ve visited a doctor in the past year, you’re already ahead. You’re in a minority of U.S. men who regularly see a physician. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are twice as likely as women to have skipped an appointment for a couple years—or admit to never going as adults.
It’s common to feel too busy to fit a doctor’s visit into your schedule or worried about what you might find out. But visiting a family health clinic can help you tackle men’s health issues proactively, before they develop into more serious problems. Your mid-20s are an ideal age to start building a relationship with your physician; for those who are older, the second best time is now.
2. Go to sleep earlier
In a world where long workweeks and packed schedules rule, getting sleep may be the last item on your list. You’re not alone. One in three U.S. adults don’t get enough rest. As the National Sleep Foundation suggests, aim for seven to nine hours of sleep.
Developing good sleep hygiene habits like turning off all electronic devices an hour before bed and waking up at the same time every day can help you improve your sleep cycle. Even gradual changes like going to sleep 15 minutes earlier every day have a big impact.
Have you looked in the mirror lately? Giving your skin a good look over helps more than just your vanity; it’s a good way to look for irregularities, which is especially important for those who often work and play outside.
For instance, white men older than age 50 are the most likely to develop melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. Examine your whole body including your scalp, hands—including under the fingernails—and lower back for marks that have appeared or changed in size. Also, make sure to wear sunscreen, a sun hat, and long sleeves, if possible, when spending time in the sun.
4. See a therapist
In the same way many men hesitate to visit family health physicians, men seek counseling at lower rates compared to women. They often turn to other coping methods to handle anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
A quality therapist can help you navigate everything from relationships to mental illness. Don’t be afraid to ask people you know for references and take care of your mental health as well as your physical health.
The rewards of family time go beyond fun. It can help men’s health flourish—physically and mentally. One 2015 study showed fathers who spend time with their children daily are happier with their jobs, for instance. Friends don’t hurt either. People with the strongest social networks are 50 percent more likely to live longer than those who aren’t as well attached.
There’s power in the little things. If you commit to a few alterations to your routine, you can pave the road to better men’s health brick by brick. At NWPC, we’re here to help.