There's no way to cushion this message: Most men need to pay more attention to their health. Compared to women, they smoke and drink more, make more risky and unhealthy choices and are much more reluctant to see a doctor for a checkup or because of a nagging health complaint (it'll go away if I ignore it!). As a result, women who were age 65 in 2014 can count on living two and a half years longer than guys who were age 65 in that year. Even more startling: In 2020, American men's life expectancy at birth was 75.1 years and women's at birth was 80.5.
Just listen to this: The leading causes of death in the U.S. for men are heart disease, cancer and unintentional accidents (those risky choices). That's because more than 40% of men ages 20 and older have obesity and only 42.4% meet leisure-time aerobic activity guidelines. They also have high blood pressure -- around 52%. Plus, 15% of guys ages 18 and older smoke and almost 31 % have had more than five drinks in a day at least once in the past year. In 2019, 7% of men had an alcohol-use disorder compared with 4% of women. Obesity, high blood pressure, alcohol abuse and inactivity amp up the risk for chronic illness and premature death.
The good news is most of these risk factors can be modified by upgrading your lifestyle choices. That may seem challenging, but the rewards are immediate and enormous -- a better outlook on life, more energy, an improved sex life, and freedom from worry about your health and longevity.
To help guys take better care of themselves and live longer and healthier, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Office for Minority Health have come up with six steps. Now, we know these are more easily said than done -- so we've added some useful how-tos.
1. See your doctor for regular checkups, including for prostate and cardiovascular health, to check testosterone levels, and get cancer screenings. For info on colonoscopies, check out "What You Need to Know About Colon Cancer" at DoctorOz.com. And for insights into prostate health, go to "Why Men's Health Needs Your Help" on the website.
Also, don't postpone going to the doctor with questions about how you are feeling. A touch of chest pain? A bothersome mole? Trouble catching your breath? These kinds of physical concerns demand attention, not oblivion. Ignoring them may just make what you have to deal with a whole lot worse in the long run.
2. Pay attention to what you eat. Dr. Mike can show you how easy it is in his book "What to Eat When." You'll learn to experiment with new flavor combos and spices and to enjoy seasonal vegetables and fruits and lean poultry and fish.
3. Stay active -- outside of work. Turns out a physical job doesn't bestow the same health benefits you get from intentional aerobics and strength building. Moderate, good-for-you activities include shooting hoops for 30 minutes, swimming laps for 20 minutes and walking a 20-minute mile headed for 10,000 steps a day. To get started, try "Dr. Oz's Seven Minute Workout" with Joel Harper on YouTube.
4. Quit smoking and vaping -- even marijuana is implicated in a substantial increase in heart disease among adult users. Check out CDC.gov, "How to Quit Smoking."
5. Practice stress management daily and understand that seeking help for mental health issues takes strength -- it is not a sign of weakness. Start with "How to Get Help" at MentalHealth.gov. And check out Mental Health America at
mhamentalhealth.org for lots of resources.
6. Stay up-to-date on of all your vaccinations, including for COVID-19. More women than men are getting that vaccine, even as more men are dying of COVID-19. To see recommended adult vaccines and find out what you're missing, go to CDC.gov. Search for "Adult Vaccine Schedule." Give better health a shot today!
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.