5 Healthy Habits to Start During Men’s Health Month

Jake Newby

| 5 min read

The idea of taking small steps to get healthy every day might sound simple on the surface, but making lifestyle changes can be a lot easier said than done. Setting long-term health goals can feel daunting for some. In honor of Men’s Health Month, maybe it’s time to try a different approach.
This list of five healthy habits men can start incorporating today is designed to help you start feeling better about your choices and overall health right away.

1. Go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends.

Irregular sleeping patterns can have a negative impact on the body’s metabolism, which dictates how we function and use energy. A study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) found that not sticking to a regular bedtime and wakeup schedule can lead to a higher risk for obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, high blood sugar and other metabolic disorders.
Try setting a specific bedtime and take measures to prepare for it. For example, if you aim to be in bed by 10 p.m., stop looking at your cell phone and other electronic devices by 9 p.m.

2. Set a cutoff for eating and snacking.

This tip correlates directly with your set bedtime. Most researchers agree that it’s best to stop eating two to three hours before you go to sleep. Avoiding heavy meals late at night is particularly important because the digestive system slows down as we sleep. Eating late at night can cause food to linger in our stomachs, which can lead to indigestion and potential issues like heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Eating late at night is also associated with weight gain, as the calories consumed during your late-night snack are stored as fat as you sleep. They may burn slowly, but it’s nothing compared to the pace they burn at when you’re active and moving around during the day. Avoid the urge to late-night snack on junk food by opting for a healthy, filling snack in the early evening such as fruit mixed into a small bowl of Greek yogurt, or a sliced apple with a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter.

3. Add physical activity to your day or add 10 more minutes to your current exercise routine.

A 2022 JAMA Internal Medicine study estimated that adding 10 more minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day, like brisk walking or any similar activity, could mean 7% fewer deaths per year. Regular exercise is proven to lower cholesterol, triglycerides and risk of high blood pressure, all of which can increase a person’s risk for heart disease if not properly managed.
Adult men should try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day, totaling about 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, according to the American Heart Association.
If you don’t work out regularly, aim to start slowly by walking outside or on a treadmill at a brisk 3.5 speed. Gradually incorporate weight workouts after that.
If you’re already big into working out, that’s great. Challenge yourself by adding 10 extra minutes of exercise to your routine, which can be accomplished by adding one set to each of your weight-lifting routines or walking or jogging lightly for 10 minutes to close out your workout, when you might have otherwise stopped for the day.

4. Incorporate one new mindfulness activity into your day.

Being more mindful can improve mood and reduce stress while improving a person’s focus and attention span. A stigma still exists around men caring for their mental health. The societal notion that men should be “manly” and shouldn’t appear “weak” has contributed to a disproportionate difference between the number of males experiencing mental health disorders and those seeking treatment, according to a study published by the American Journal of Men’s Health.
This is a stigma that is being chipped away at yearly in the United States and should be broken altogether. Nurture your mental health by dedicating 10 or 15 minutes each day to mindfulness techniques, such as:
  • Focused breathing.
  • Mindfulness journaling.
  • Light yoga and stretching. 
  • A morning “awe walk,” in which you walk without listening to music or scrolling through your phone.

5. Reduce your caffeine and/or alcoholic intake slowly.

Reduced caffeine intake can make you less jittery and anxious while improving your sleep quality. If you’re a big coffee drinker and consume between one and two cups every day, try to cut out a couple of cups a week. Satisfy the reward sensation in your brain by replacing those coffees with a chamomile or hibiscus tea. If you regularly drink energy drinks, try the same thing; start avoiding one or two a week and replace them with a tea or sugar-free sparkling water.
Reduced alcohol intake can lead to a very long list of physical and mental health benefits. Alcohol is more dangerous than caffeine, so these do not equate on the same level in terms of health risk. But if you’re a regular alcohol drinker, try cutting out one drink per day or one entire day of the week that you’d normally drink. Satisfy the habit of having a beverage to relax by following the same tips above and swapping out the alcohol for a cup of tea, sparkling water or occasional ginger beer.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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