So, it's January. A time when we might reflect on how to improve our life during the new year. And let's face it, most men want to remain healthy, but visiting a doctor is reserved for when we get sick. But why not take steps to stay healthy. Make it a priority to get regular checkups, preventative screening tests and immunizations. These are among the most important things you can do for your health.
Screening Tests: What you need and when
Screening tests, such as colorectal cancer tests, can find diseases early when they are easier to treat. Some men need certain screening tests earlier, or more often, than others. Talk to your doctor about the tests you need, when you should have them and how often. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has made recommendations, based on scientific evidence, about which screening tests you should have. They include:
Cholesterol checks: Have your cholesterol checked at least every five years, starting at age 35. If you smoke, have diabetes or if heart disease runs in your family, start having your cholesterol checked at age 20.
Blood pressure: Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years.
Colorectal Cancer Tests: Begin regular screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you and how often you need to be tested.
Diabetes tests: Have a test to screen for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. American Diabetes Association advises screening in all individuals over 45. Persons under 45 who are overweight and with additional risk factors such as family history, high blood pressure and high cholesterol should be screened.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Talk to your doctor to see whether you should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV.
Prostate cancer screening: Talk to your doctor about the benefits of a prostate cancer screening.
What Else Can You Do To Stay Healthy?
Don't smoke. But if you do smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. You can take medicine and get counseling to help you quit. Make a plan and set a quit date. Ask for support from your family, friends and co-workers.
Eat a healthy diet. Eat a variety of foods, preferably whole foods (unprocessed), including fruit, vegetables, animal or vegetable protein (such as lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans and lentils) and grains (rice). Limit your intake of saturated fat and avoid trans fat.
Be physically active. Find physical activity you enjoy, such as walking, riding a bike or raking leaves. Start small and work up to a total of 20-30 minutes most days of the week. Some studies have shown that this time can be divided into 10-minute intervals and still be beneficial. Use creative ways to get extra steps, such as parking farther from work and walking or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Stay at a healthy weight. Balance the number of calories you eat with the number you burn off by your activities. Remember to watch portion sizes. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about what or how much to eat. When eating out, eat half your portion. If you must eat fast food, avoid "biggie" sizing anything. Avoid condiments, such as mayo, cheese and anything fried.
Drink alcohol only in moderation. If you drink alcohol, have no more than two drinks daily. A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. Wine is preferable because it contains beneficial antioxidants.