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6 Steps a Man Can Take to Feel Healthy, Vital, and Fit

Dec 21 2020
6 min read
Man hiking on trail in woods with light shining through trees.

There’s no debate, that as you get older, it takes more of an effort to keep fit and healthy.

Perhaps you participated in countless organized sports when younger and didn’t have to put much thought into your health? Making a commitment to feel good and vital doesn’t have to be a struggle or something to dread, however. Sure, you have more responsibilities, and may be more sedentary, like many adults, yet fitness, and a positive mindset, is something to embrace. Change your mind about it and lean into the fun of feeling attractive, youthful, and full of vitality. For many men, the motivation to start on a journey toward better health begins when they notice unwelcome changes. And it may seem like a huge leap to imagine a healthier life. But it all begins where you are, and with small daily steps, that will lead you on a path to where you want to be. Here are a few ways to start:

Reconnect with Your Doctor

Compared to women, men are 24 percent less likely to have seen their doctor in the last year. When asked why, many say well visits are pointless. But, “I believe a yearly checkup is more important than ever,” says Stephen Brewer, MD, medical director of Canyon Ranch in Tucson. Keep in mind that doctors don’t just wait until you have a chronic illness and treat it — they can test you for risk factors and help you prevent disease. “We can make changes that have a major impact on your future health,” Dr. Brewer says. Furthermore, seeing your doctor at other times can help you become more aware of abnormalities that are worth being concerned about — why it’s worth making an appointment about that nagging cough, instead of betting it will just go away.

Update Your Fitness Routine

As testosterone begins to decline in your 30s, you’ll need to work harder to build lean muscle mass. While pumping iron may not be at the top of your to-do list, strength training can help keep you strong and also ward off excess pounds, since lean muscle burns more calories than fat does. “Don’t skip cardio, but add strength-training exercises if you haven’t already,” Dr. Brewer suggests.

Rethink Your Diet

While exercise is key for health and for sustainable weight control, it can be tough to burn enough calories to lose weight. The best approach is to combine physical activity and a proper diet — something that many men don’t think about until the scale has tipped, Dr. Brewer says. This often means moving toward a plant-based diet centered mostly on vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and healthy oils. Swap out some of your red meat intake for lean poultry and seafood, including fatty cold-water fish rich in omega-3s. And as much as possible, steer clear of highly processed foods, including cured meats, commercial baked goods, and sugar-laden drinks.

Escape the Emotional Man Cave

“I often encounter men who don’t like to talk about mental health,” Dr. Brewer says. “They just assume things will get better on their own.” Unfortunately, chronic stress, anxiety, and depression aren’t issues you can safely ignore — each can have broad effects on every aspect of your life. The first step is recognizing that you may be going through a difficult time — and accepting that that’s OK. Our article, Men and Depression: Considering Therapy, explains how talking about your emotions with a health professional can be an important step on the path to total wellness. Learning healthy ways to reduce stress, from exercise, to meditation, to tai chi — can also help you improve your mental and physical health.

Take Care of Your Teeth

Good daily dental health habits don’t just yield cosmetic results. Gum disease can increase the risk of a surprising roster of illnesses, including heart disease, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Get started on your approach to better oral health by making it a habit to brush and floss after every meal, whenever possible. It’s also important to get regular cleanings, eat a healthy diet without too many starchy or sugary snacks or drinks (which promote tooth decay), and avoid smoking.

Limit Alcohol

While one drink a day may be OK for many guys, men are twice as likely as women to engage in binge drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion). Of course, this doesn’t mean every man drinks too much. But it’s worth a self-check to see if your alcohol consumption may be interfering with your attempts at weight control, affecting your sleep, or having an impact on your relationships or work. Part of your new healthy journey may be to find ways to shed stress and to relax — without turning to a drink.

Embrace the Journey

Every man has an individual path to wellness. How your own journey evolves depends on who you are, what you’ve been doing so far, and how willing you are to try something new and revitalizing. One of the joys of life is learning how to adjust to change to become a better man.

A headshot of Dr. Stephen Brewer

About the Expert

A headshot of Dr. Stephen Brewer

Stephen C. Brewer

MD, ABFM, Medical Director

Dr. Brewer knows from experience that the key to balancing a busy professional life with personal wellness is to find a plan that works with your lifestyle. He is passionate about helping our guests discover that balance for themselves.

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