Top Health Tips for Aging Men
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For many men, the age of 50 is the turning point for their health and well-being. In the younger years, the bad habits you could get away with — or bounce back from — start to catch up with you. And the stress and strain of daily obligations can make you feel like you don’t have the time to focus on your health.
“Men over 50 often are often very busy with careers and family obligations that lead to increased stress, poor eating habits, and less physical activity,” says David M. Rodin, M.D., a urologist with the University of Miami Health System at the new location in Downtown West Palm Beach. “They often neglect their health. Unchecked, these can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, and some cancers.”
Fortunately, a man’s road to maintaining good health well into his years isn’t as long or arduous as you may have been led to believe. Dr. Rodin says that sticking with some basics can keep a man feeling his best, even as he crosses the 50 threshold and moves toward 60 and beyond.
Those annual screenings? Yes, they are needed
Older men can be particularly bad at getting their regular health screenings, says Dr. Rodin.
“Women are more likely than men to see a physician on a regular basis,” he says. “Men often avoid seeing a physician until they are not feeling well, at which point the problem may have progressed, and treatment can be more difficult.”
Dr. Rodin says you should see your doctor to get checked for prostate cancer, colon cancer, blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Regular blood pressure and cholesterol screenings are always valuable for your heart health, while prostate and colon cancer screenings may begin in your 40s or 50s, depending on your risk level. Ask your doctor about his or her screening recommendations during your annual wellness visit.
Have open conversations with your doctor
“Many men are reluctant to discuss sensitive and personal matters, such as erectile dysfunction or urinary difficulty, with their physicians due to embarrassment,” he says. “However, these are quite common problems.”
What’s more, these issues are often tied to underlying health conditions that require treatment, so Dr. Rodin says it’s vital for men to talk openly. Their health could be at stake.
Focus on diet
Of course, a healthy diet is a key to a long life, but as men age is even more important to maintain a healthy weight. Dr. Rodin relies on tenets like plentiful fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; avocadoes, nuts, and seeds for healthy fats; and fish, poultry, and lean meats in place of red meat.
Some nutrients, in particular, are important for men as they age. For example, calcium and vitamin D can preserve bone health, while dietary fiber preserves digestive health and normal bowel function. In addition, healthy fats from nuts, avocadoes, seeds, and olive oil can protect heart health, while potassium can keep your blood pressure in check.
Men have a habit of shunning plain water for beverages with caffeine or alcohol, but Dr. Rodin says that these can dry you out more than hydrate you. In addition, some research indicates that regular soda consumption can increase the risk of prostate cancer in men.
To maintain good health, drink water throughout the day.
“The amount of fluid intake you need can vary widely based on your body mass index, medical conditions, ambient temperature, and activity level,” says Dr. Rodin. “An indicator of hydration status can be obtained simply by looking at the color of your urine. If your urine is a pale yellow to clear, you are likely well-hydrated. If your urine is dark yellow, orange, or tea-colored, you are likely dehydrated.”
Take time to exercise
“The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (which is anything that gets your heart rate up) per week and muscle-strengthening activity (which is anything that makes your muscles work harder than usual) two days a week,” says Dr. Rodin.
If you need some help making exercise a regular thing, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends exercising with a partner to make it a social activity. You can also stay active doing something you enjoy, whether it’s fishing, golfing, dancing, gardening, or simply walking.
It’s never too late to start making healthy changes
Finally, Dr. Rodin says he sometimes sees an attitude in older men that it’s too late for them to make positive changes in their health at this point. This is far from the truth.
“Even if you did not previously practice healthy habits, there are benefits for men who begin these lifestyle changes after age 50,” he says.
To make an appointment with Dr. Rodin at the new Downtown West Palm location, call 561-219-2424 or click here.
Wyatt Myers is a contributing writer for UMiami Health News.