Four things men can do to improve their health right now

Four things men can do to improve their health right now

Easy steps every man can take to boost body and mind

Hey, fellas, when was the last time you had a wellness check? Or an honest conversation about your worries? If you’re like many men, staying on top of your physical and mental health, especially as you age, might not rank highly on your “stuff I need to do” list.

But it should.

“Men spend many years often prioritizing their work to the detriment of their bodies,” says University Health Network (UHN) urologist Dr. Dean Elterman. “This includes eating, drinking and smoking in excess; not seeking help or medical attention for ailments until they become an emergency; and forgoing healthy routines.”

Taking steps to improve your health is pretty easy, though. Here are four ways to get started.

Schedule your screenings

Quick-and-painless tests and screenings are invaluable tools in maintaining good health. “All men should keep an eye on blood pressure, weight and waist circumference, and exercise tolerance,” says Dr. Elterman. “We recommend a PSA blood test for detecting prostate cancer at age 50.”

Dr. Elterman also suggests blood work to check cholesterol and glucose levels, and encourages men to bring any urological concerns — such as erectile dysfunction, incontinence and infertility — to their doctor so the appropriate exams and tests can be performed. “Urological issues can have a major impact on the quality of life experienced by men,” he says.

Recognize “red flags”

Spotting — and informing your doctor about — troublesome signs or symptoms early helps ensure proper (and prompt) treatment. “When it comes to cardiovascular health, men should be looking for intermittent chest tightness or pain [angina], erectile dysfunction and elevated blood pressure,” says Dr. Elterman.

Other “red flags” to watch out for include:
• weight gain, reduced exercise tolerance and high blood-sugar levels, which could signal diabetes;
• changes in the urinary stream, which could indicate an enlarged prostate;
• fatigue and decreased libido, which could be signs of low testosterone;
• and changes in mood or behaviour, which could indicate a mental-health concern.

Hone new habits

Roughly 70 percent of men’s health problems are caused by lifestyle choices, which is why developing healthier habits is key. “[This] includes adequate sleep, a nutritious diet, regular exercise, activity to stimulate the brain, close relationships, and a sense of community,” says Dr. Elterman.

You can start with small, simple changes, from five minutes of quiet meditation to taking the stairs, choosing a healthier food option or engaging in a social activity.

Make mental health matter

“Never before has the importance of mental health been so widely seen as on par with physical health,” says Dr. Elterman. “Knowing the signs of depression and anxiety, which can be exhibited differently in men, is important.” These include irritability, loss of interest in everyday activities, feelings of hopelessness, trouble sleeping, or weight gain/loss. And, if you’re struggling, reach out to someone — your doctor, a friend or family member, even an anonymous hotline — for help.

Dr. Elterman stresses that mental health is as vital a component of men’s overall health as diet or exercise. “This normalizes the concept of mental health amongst men,” he says, “[which] leads to less stigma, so men can feel less invincible, more vulnerable and open to asking for help.”

Hear more from Dr. Elterman — and savour a delicious meal! — at the next Serving Knowledge Supper Club hosted by UHN Impact Collective and Toronto Life on June 16, 2022, at Constantine (15 Charles Street East) all about men’s health.

Click here to register for the event.