Men, if your 30th birthday is in your rearview mirror, it’s about to get a lot tougher to get away with some of the lifestyle choices you got away with in your teens and early 20s.
What you put into your body – and what you keep out of it – matters more as you age. The same goes for physical activity. Diet and exercise obviously play a huge role in sustaining good health, but there’s more to it than that for men over 30. Here are five helpful tips:
1. Put in the work to maintain a healthy weight
Let’s grab the low-hanging fruit with this first tip. Men should try to carve out at least25 minutes a day of physical activity. Not every day needs to be an Olympic-style weight-lifting session, but you should mix in some moderate exercise sessions to complement higher-intensity ones. This could include brisk walks or light jogs. If your joints hurt you more than they used to, ditch the treadmill at the gym in favor of the elliptical.
You should also be more mindful of your diet. Cut back on the fried and fatty foods if you’re a fast foodie and mix in more whole foods and high-fiber options, like vegetables (namely broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus), avocados, nuts and seeds, and beans.
Not sure what equates to a healthy weight for you? Read this: What is a Healthy Weight?
2. Drink less alcohol and stop smoking (if applicable)
If you were a big drinker in college and into your mid-20s, you should consider scaling back; New research indicates that binge drinking even once a week can increase your risk of health problems by almost five times – even if you don’t drink the rest of the week. Beyond the feelings of hangover anxiety, or “hangxiety,” drinking consistently can lead to serious long-term health problems. If you have more than one drink per day, consider cutting back before the habit catches up to you.
As most of us know, regularly smoking cigarettes has a massive correlation with lung cancer and risk of heart disease and stroke. If you don’t smoke, good job; don’t start! If you do and would like to quit, tap into Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM)’s many resources, such as tobacco coaching and the “Quit Tobacco Digital Health Assistant.”
3. Consistently visit your primary care provider
An estimated 25% of Americans do not have a primary care provider, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers. Don’t be one of them. Checking in regularly with your PCP can help men establish a baseline of good health. Regular checkups can possibly uncover health issues you didn’t know you had. They also provide a platform to ask any questions you might have about aches and pains, sexual health, fertility and your overall health in general.
4. Stay on top of important screenings
Tips no. 3 and 4 on this list go hand in hand. A third of men polled in a national 2022 survey did not believe they needed to attend annual health screenings. While not an end-all, be-all, this data indicates a general handwaving of important screenings. Skipping screenings can lead to serious health problems for men, as many issues that develop as we age can go unnoticed.
For men, learning how to do testicular self-exams is a must. Testicular cancer is most common for men in their late 20s and early 30s, with an average age of diagnosis of 33 years old, so it’s important to know what “normal” feels like. It’s also important to call your primary care provider if something is concerning.
Cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes screenings and monthly mole exams should also be discussed with your primary care provider in your 30s. Depending on your family’s history of colorectal cancer, it may be recommended that you have a colonoscopy performed.
5. Know your family health history
As mentioned above, knowing your family’s health history can help you stay ahead of the curve in terms of certain cancers and diseases. For example, if colorectal cancer, diabetes or heart disease runs in your family, you can share that information with your PCP, who may recommend testing or screenings that you wouldn’t otherwise be subjected to. If you haven't already, this knowledge also allows you to adjust your lifestyle and dietary habits accordingly. Some experts recommend constructing a family medical history tree.
More on men's health: