In June, we celebrate Men’s Health Awareness, so it’s a great time to think about some important steps men can take to put their health first. Compared with women, men are at increased risk for a number of conditions, including heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and more. But with education, motivation and a little help from healthcare professionals and wellness experts—like the workplace wellness coaches at Labcorp—you can start the habits that make for a longer, healthier life. Here are seven tips for men to lead longer and healthier lives.

1. Forget dieting, eat healthfully

There isn’t one perfect diet or eating style for everybody. Instead of following diet trends, you should strive to eat more healthful foods in a way that works for you.

For example, you may find that eating healthier is easier with two well-planned meals a day, or you may do better with as many as six smaller meals a day. What matters is making more room for healthy foods that are rich in the nutrients men need—like raw vegetables, shellfish and fatty fish, bananas, broccoli, cherries, berries, sweet potatoes, Brazil nuts, tomato sauce, avocadoes, spinach and yogurt.

If you’re looking for inspiration, you can try the 80/20 rule, in which you spend 80% of the time eating these healthy foods and 20% of the time indulging a little in other foods you like. There are many resources and apps available to help you with this technique—like MyNetDiary, which assigns foods a ‘grade’ (A,B,C,D) to help you determine the healthfulness of certain foods and products.

The amount of healthy fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals you need vary based on factors like sex, age and fitness level. For more details on how to plan your healthful diet, you can visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

2. Quit smoking and chewing tobacco

Men are at higher risk of developing oral and throat cancer, as well as gum diseases, independent of substance use. This makes quitting tobacco use a very important step in improving your health, and many of the benefits begin almost immediately.  For example, your body’s oxygen level increases and blood pressure decreases within 24 hours of quitting smoking, and you may notice improved sense of smell and taste within 48 hours. 

Other long-term benefits include reduced coughing and shortness of breath, reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and improved health and life expectancy.

3. Keep your weight or waist in check

Maintaining a body mass index (BMI) that is within a healthy range of 18.5 to 24.9 can be an important step in living your healthiest life. BMI is a common screening tool calculated using your height and weight, and it places results into four categories: underweight, healthy weight, overweight and obese.

BMI alone may not be enough to determine a healthy weight for you, so if maintaining BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is not realistic for your body type, composition or frame, another measurement to consider is your waist circumference. Men should typically try to maintain a waist circumference of less than 40 inches. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a waist circumference greater than 40 inches is associated with higher risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

4. Stay positive and take breaks

Taking care of your mental health is key to maintaining your overall health and well-being. What it means to take care of your mental health is different for everyone, so here are some simple ideas for staying positive and taking time for yourself:

  • Every day, do something for yourself and others
  • Don’t save all your fun for vacation: Find little ways to relax every day
  • Shoot hoops in the driveway after work
  • Take the family to the park
  • Relax outside with a glass of iced tea

5. See your doctor regularly

Routine, preventive care is essential, so it’s important to receive annual check-ups, age-recommended tests and screenings. The same goes for dental and eye exams. Being proactive with your care includes knowing your family history and sharing it with your doctor. Taking action now can reduce your risk of health complications later.

 It’s also important to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t wait for your annual check-up—discuss it with your doctor right away.

6. Prioritize physical activity and change up your workout routine

You should try to exercise moderately for at least 30 minutes every day, changing up your exercise routine every once in a while to challenge your muscles and heart. Fortunately, getting exercise doesn’t require a gym membership or expensive equipment; in fact, one of the healthiest forms of exercise requires neither. Just 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity walking (a little over 20 minutes a day) can help you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent or manage heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and more
  • Boost your mood
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve heart health

In addition to walking, you should also consider seasonal sports and indoor and outdoor aerobic activities. You can also include resistance training and flexibility training on alternate days.

7. Prioritize sleep

Nothing can substitute solid, restful sleep on a consistent basis. Your mental, physical, social and emotional health, as well as your mood, memory, problem-solving skills, appetite and much more are tied to the quality of your sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is between seven and eight hours.

Greater well-being through workplace health coaching

Labcorp’s health coaching programs can bring a transformative journey to greater well-being right into the workplace. Our team of healthcare professionals supports participants in making positive, sustainable lifestyle changes to help you lead your best life both inside and outside of the office. 

Contact us to learn more.

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