Age 50 is a health milestone for men. Many men have spent their lives feeling indestructible, and, therefore, unconcerned about their health. But when the bulletproof confidence that comes with youth starts to fade, thoughts about their wellbeing slowly begin to come to the forefront – or at least they should.
“We’re all constantly changing,” said Dr. Zack Fulton, physician with OSF Medical Group – Primary Care. “As we get older, more things go wrong, and we have more problems. One of the reasons why the 50s is a magic number is because there’s a lot of new screening tests that start in your 50s for a vast majority of the people, especially men over 50.”
1) Staying ahead of the game – prevention for men over 50
Preventive care is crucial to overall health. Dr. Fulton stresses the importance of getting an annual physical. Among the health screenings you can expect:
- Blood pressure screening
- Cancer screening
- Cholesterol screening
- Prostate exam
“I think the biggest thing with any patient is getting to know them and what their concerns are first and getting to know their family history, so you know what is most likely to cause a problem for them,” said Dr. Fulton said. “You want to gear their medical care to what they need the most.”
Men over 50 need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to function properly.
3) Healthy Eating
Dr. Fulton says making smaller changes, rather than bigger ones, will stick over a longer period. That includes giving up junk food and opting for more fruits and vegetables, which will help with excess weight around the midsection.
It’s never too late to quit. According to Dr. Fulton, putting an end to smoking can improve overall health, including breathing and endurance, and decrease cancer risk.
Watch your alcohol consumption. Most men tend to drink too much in one sitting. Moderation is the key.
Dr. Fulton recommends a combination of strength training and cardio workouts, especially for men who are sedentary due to work and lifestyle. Men lose bone mass and flexibility by their 60s, so strength training takes on added importance.
“It’s never too late to change a lifestyle,” Dr. Fulton said. “I think wherever you’re at, you’re at a different starting point than you were. It’s always better to start sooner, but you’re never too late to start changing bad habits. Sometimes you have to find what works for you. We can’t all go to the gym like we did and lift weights and pump iron, maybe the same way when you were in high school and college. But there are exercises you can do to strengthen your muscles and get some of that back.”
Where to start
The first step is to visit your doctor, who can help devise a plan to get you pointed in the right direction.
“So often we have trouble just getting people to make that first step and come in when they have underlying problems they don’t even know about,” Dr. Fulton said. “Once we get some of the measurements – check their weight, check their cholesterol, then we can really gear the focus toward what they need the most and what they want the most.”
For more information on men’s health, visit OSF HealthCare here.