With Men's Health Week in full swing, it's a good time to think about what men need to do to stay healthy during different stages of life. What you need to do when you're in your 20s is quite different to the preventative measures you need to think about in your 50s and beyond.
At each stage of your life, your interests, lifestyle and other choices change. And that means the sorts of things you need to do to not only stay healthy but also avoid issues later in life are important.
As a man in my 50s, my physical-, sexual- and mental-health needs are very different to those I had in my 20s and 30s. And, as I reflect on my father's health issues, most of them were brought on by lifestyle choices he made when he was younger.
It's Men's Health Week - a time for for those with a Y-chromosome to pay extra attention to their health and well-being. I spoke with the Simon von Saldern, the CEO of Healthy Male, to find out what this week is all about and where men can seek help and support for their ongoing health.
While he had never needed a hospital visit until he was in his 60s, by the time he was 70 all the poor choices made when he was younger came back to bite him. Emphysema from smoking (even though he'd quit more than 20 years before dying), weak bones from not exercising, Type 2 diabetes from poor diet, and cardio-vascular disease all took a heavy toll on his quality of life.
Taking preventative steps now can make a big difference to your ongoing health and well-being.
While there are lots of things you can do, there are some things you can focus on during each decade of your life. Some of these things are constant, like regularly checking your testes for lumps and ensuring you use sunscreen and practising safe sex. But establishing good habits early in life makes keeping those habits easier as you get older.
Staying healthy in your 20s
- Avoid binge drinking, smoking and taking illicit drugs
- Deal with emotional issues by finding someone you can trust to talk with
- Enjoy life but make smart decisions about safe sex and using sunscreen
- Regularly check for unusual lumps and other changes in your testes
Staying healthy in your 30s
- Keep your work and life balance in check
- Make time for regular exercise and physical activities your enjoy
- Enjoy life - laugh often and loudly
Staying healthy in your 40s
- Schedule regular breaks - by this stage of life, careers start to take on a life of their own and you need to make sure you don't overwork
- Keep active and maintain a healthy diet
- Schedule an annual health check with your doctor to keep tabs on things
Staying healthy in your 50s
- Make sure you schedule 30 minutes each day for some form of exercise
- Manage your alcohol consumption - aim for at least three alcohol free days each week
- Watch your diet - your metabolism changes as you get older so you may need to curtail your food intake
Staying healthy in your 60s
- Keep mentally and physically active - puzzles and games can complement physical activities you maintain
- Challenge yourself to learn a new skill
- Don't become a shut in - get out and socialise as much as you can
Staying healthy in your 70s
- Stay active doing things you enjoy - whether that's a sport or going for regular walks, remember to keep moving
- Talk to your GP about any changes to your memory, sexual activity or other aspects of your physical and mental health
- Stay in touch with friends, socialise and laugh - a lot
Finding out more
Healthy Male has produced a great book called "Spanner in the Works" in association with the Australian Men's Shed Association that you can download for free. It has lots of detailed advice about what you can do to stay healthy throughout your entire life.