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How can men improve their health?

June 13, 2022 • read

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How can men improve their health?

Canadian men live four years less than Canadian women on average. They’re also more likely to spend their final years in ill health. Despite this, men are more likely to visit the doctor than women — but only when they’re feeling sick. Men don’t take advantage of preventative care in the same way.

The thing is, most diseases don’t begin as acute conditions. Instead, they tend to progress gradually, giving opportunities for prevention. This makes proactive medical care and specific lifestyle shifts key determinants of a long and healthy male life. Here’s how Maple can help.

The most common diseases in men

Canadian men are more likely to die from heart disease and cancer than their female counterparts. Don’t despair though — proper lifestyle interventions and preventative medical care can help.

Cancer

Canadian men and women get cancer at roughly the same rates, but men are more likely to die from it than women. Researchers attribute this to both lifestyle factors and to men being less willing to seek out early medical care.

Non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) top the list of most common cancers in Canada. And men are more likely to have an NMSC diagnosis than women. The good news is that the earlier NMSC is caught, the better your treatment outlook — so ignoring that concerning mole is a bad idea. Seeing a dermatologist online means an appointment within 24 hours — weeks or even months earlier than waiting for a referral from your family doctor.

Other types of cancer in men include penile cancer, testicular cancer, and prostate cancer. Screening for prostate cancer can be a controversial topic, but after NMSC, it’s the cancer Canadian men are most likely to be diagnosed with. Not everyone needs prostate cancer screening. If you have a family history of the disease, however, or other risk factors, and are over 45, you may want to discuss getting your prostate gland checked with your healthcare provider.

Heart disease

Canadian men are twice as likely to die of a heart attack as women, and also tend to develop heart disease 10 years earlier. But signs of a heart attack in young men don’t just include chest pain, breathing difficulties, and nausea. Signs of a heart attack in young men can also be tightness and pressure in the chest area, pain or numbness in the upper body that spreads to the shoulder blades or back of the neck and jaw, lightheadedness or fainting, dizziness, paleness, and cold sweats.

Heart disease doesn’t come out of nowhere though. Unsurprisingly, preventative care is also a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to heart disease.

Properly managing preexisting conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can lower your risk of heart disease later on. Unfortunately, studies show that men aren’t as apt to take advantage of preventative care as women.

A general health assessment can help to lower some of the barriers to preventative care that men experience. This form of virtual checkup gives you the opportunity to dive deep into your health, looking into any personal risk factors for heart disease you may have. This can help you discover any potential issues before they become serious. A general health assessment can also make sure you’re up-to-date on those tests you should never skip — like checking your blood pressure or cholesterol.

Obesity

Being overweight or obese isn’t just about size. Those excess pounds can increase your risk for a host of other issues — from diabetes to cancer. And research shows that Canadian men are more likely to have weight issues than women — almost 70% are classified as overweight or obese.

Weight management isn’t as simple as cutting calories though. If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy weight, you’re not alone. Developing a personal diet and exercise regime can be challenging.

Seeing a weight management consultant online can help make a difference. A weight management consultant can create a personalized treatment plan to meet your goals, aiding in the lifestyle and dietary changes needed to manage weight loss for men.

What is the best “healthy diet” for a man and how does it change with age?

A healthy diet can keep your energy levels from fluctuating, help you build muscle, and lower your risk of disease. Unless your doctor’s recommended one though, there isn’t a “perfect” diet for men.

Eating a variety is best — as long as you’re choosing the right elements. This means incorporating whole grains and a variety of proteins like nuts, fish, beans, and lentils into your diet. Fruits and vegetables should feature in each meal, and you’ll want to avoid processed foods and sugary drinks whenever possible.

Good nutrition remains a cornerstone of good health throughout your life, but your needs don’t stay static as you age. As you get older, your caloric needs decrease, but your nutrient needs actually increase. This often means rethinking your intake of fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. The four nightly helpings of pasta your teenage self used to wolf down just don’t cut it anymore.

Knowing exactly what to eat can be tricky though. If you’re struggling with what to put on the table, you might benefit from speaking to a dietitian. A registered dietitian can design a meal plan tailored to you — from covering your dietary needs as you age to gaining muscle and everything in between.

Your insides aren’t immune to aging either, and gut issues can rear their ugly head as you age. If you’re experiencing intestinal difficulties or suspect you’ve developed a food intolerance, speaking to a naturopathic doctor is also a great option. They can help you pinpoint the cause of the issue, and develop a treatment plan that works for you.

What are the benefits of working out for men?

Physical activity is a key part of sustaining good physical and mental health and staving off disease. Additionally, it’s crucial for maintaining lower body strength, which is important for both movement and balance, and preventing frailty in your later years. Muscle mass begins to decline in your thirties, and the less you exercise, the faster it happens.

Beyond that, exercise can improve your quality of life and cognitive functioning. It can even help strengthen your bones and reduce bone loss as you age. So aim for 150 minutes a week and divvy that up however you want. The most important thing is to get moving.

Men’s mental health problems — signs and prevention

Although men and women have different rates of mental illness, researchers are starting to question whether this accurately reflects reality. It might be that mental illness is less gender-specific, and more that men are less likely to seek help.

Despite the fact that women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression or a mood disorder, men account for four out of five suicides in Canada. One study found that men are less likely to reach out for mental health support, or to even know that they’re experiencing symptoms of depression.

Here are some of the signs that you or a man in your life may be experiencing a mental health issue:

  • Change in sleeping patterns — either sleeping too much or too little
  • Lack of interest or enjoyment in things that previously brought pleasure
  • Low energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of sadness or low mood lasting longer than two weeks
  • Physical pain such as backaches or digestive issues that don’t respond to treatment
  • Anger, irritability, road rage, or loss of sense of humour
  • Reckless behaviour such as drug or alcohol abuse, or extramarital affairs
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

It’s clear that men’s mental health in Canada is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. Due to stereotypical notions of how they “should” behave, however, men may find it difficult to ask for help. Seeking out a therapist or speaking to your family doctor about your mental health can be intimidating, and many men endure their symptoms in silence.

Maple aims to remove some of those hurdles by allowing you to make an appointment with a Canadian-licensed therapist from your device in minutes. And, at the appointment time of your choosing, you can connect with your provider from wherever is most convenient for you.

If you’re dealing with mental health issues but aren’t sure where to start, seeing a mental health physician may be appropriate. A mental health physician can assess your symptoms and work with you to decide which treatment approach works best. And if they determine that it’s necessary, they can also provide you with an appropriate prescription.

While mental illnesses like depression may feel insurmountable, approaches like therapy and medication have high rates of success. Mental illnesses are treatable with support.

Men’s sexual health — prevention and checkups

Occasional erectile dysfunction (ED) affects most men at some point — especially over the age of 40. If you’re experiencing ED regularly, however, it may be a sign of a larger problem.

Alcohol is often responsible for regular episodes of ED, but it may also be due to a poorly managed or undiagnosed condition. In their early stages, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and depression can all fly under the radar, only showing up as problems getting and sustaining an erection.

ED isn’t the only concern when it comes to sexual health, however. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and prostate issues are also common male complaints. Unfortunately, many men are embarrassed to talk about their sexual health or to go for men’s sexual health tests, and choose to ignore it instead.

Sexual health is part of your physical and mental well-being and it’s too important to ignore. Seeing a healthcare provider about your sexual health symptoms is a crucial part of keeping your penis healthy. If you feel that you might need a sexual health checkup, speaking to a doctor online can help to curb some of that face-to-face awkwardness.

How Maple can help men put their health first

So-called masculine ideals have pushed some men into believing that it’s not manly to see the doctor unless something’s really wrong. That idea is outdated. Acute issues necessitate a visit with your provider, but preventative health checkups are just as important. If you don’t know where to start, try scheduling a general health assessment for a 360 view of your health.

Taking good care of your health now lets you reap the benefits today and as you age. Don’t wait for an acute issue to appear, prevent it before it becomes a problem. Your quality of life is in your hands.

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