While the structure of a healthy lifestyle is the same regardless of gender, men face a few unique challenges when it comes to improving habits, physical performance, and overall wellbeing. Recent research reveals three primary areas of concern for most American men:
- Unhealthy habits like tobacco and alcohol use
- Risky behaviors
- Lack of preventive health care
A few simple changes can make a huge improvement in male health and performance. Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Change your mindset
Establishing a healthy mindset is the first step toward positive change. For men, health needs to be a priority. Many weight loss and lifestyle change programs on the market today are geared toward women, who are the primary consumers of such programs. While a few programs cater to men, it’s important for men to overcome the mindset that weight loss programs are for women.
Step 2: Identify and prioritize health challenges
Habits that are obviously unhealthy like tobacco use and alcohol abuse are a top priority but don’t stop there. The best approach to improving health is twofold: add small healthy habits to your daily routine to support your goal of eliminating unhealthy habits. If that’s overwhelming, start with the change that will most improve your health first. If you use tobacco, find a program that will help you quit. If you’re among the nearly 1/3 of men who ever have more than five alcoholic drinks in a single day, cut back or eliminate alcohol consumption to see rapid improvement in your health.
Belly fat is also a challenge for men. Nationwide, 60-80 percent of men are obese. A man’s fat repository is primarily around his midsection, which can negatively affect health because belly fat deposits interfere with organ and hormone function. Waist circumference is a better predictor of heart disease in men than weight or BMI. Aim for a waist measurement of fewer than 37 inches to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Step 3: Set yourself up for success with preventive care
Preventive health care and regular medical check-ups provide early diagnosis and intervention. The American Heart Association lists 10 reasons men don’t seek out adequate preventive care, and among those is a lack of medical insurance (11.9 percent of men under age 65), lack of a relationship with a primary care provider, money or time constraints, and a misunderstanding of the importance of regular doctor visits and health screenings.
Step 4: Add balanced habits gradually
A foundation for good health is built with a balanced approach to healthy habits. Challenge yourself to do a little more each day to develop a health-conscious mindset, incorporate movement, improve your nutrition, and focus on purposeful recovery. Most importantly when getting started, focus on getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to reduce your risk of heart disease and boost your energy and mood throughout the day.
Any journey worth taking begins with a single step. Take your first step toward a healthier you by deciding what changes will make the biggest difference in your health. Then, you’ll be ready to find the support you need to set and meet goals and tackle them in more manageable steps every day. Your health is worth it!
Find resources and support for alcohol abuse and addiction through the National Institutes of Health Rethinking Drinking page.
Learn more about the dangers associated with belly fat with this Men’s Health article. Check out the linked resources for more information and strategies to target belly fat.
EXOS Men’s Health Guide
In partnership with EXOS, a world leader in human performance and the management company for CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.