We asked five male physicians at Emerson to share their best health tips for men. Read on for their useful advice.
Q: What are your best tips to stay healthy as we age?
A: The most common health challenge that most of us will face with aging is becoming overweight or obese. I see many men whose lives have been dramatically affected by their weight gain. Men struggle in different ways with diet and exercise. Eating fast and in large portions is common, which makes slowing down and focusing on portion control and emotional cues difficult. Many focus mainly on aerobic exercise, when studies show that strength training burns more fat. With the natural decrease in muscle mass as we age, strength training becomes more important for weight control. The best approach is to do both aerobic and strength training exercise daily.
Q. What can I do to manage frequent heartburn?
A. If you have heartburn more than once a week, or difficulty swallowing, contact your physician or gastroenterologist. Heartburn is the most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD happens when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. When left untreated, this digestive disorder can lead to Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer, so early diagnosis and treatment are essential. Barrett’s is much more likely to progress to cancer in men than women.
Many men will get some relief with diet and lifestyle changes, such as avoiding spicy, acidic, and fatty foods, eating smaller meals, elevating the head of their beds, or quitting tobacco products. If you have frequent symptoms, talk with your doctor or make an appointment to see a gastroenterologist – they can determine what is going on and help you feel better.
Q. How can I get a better night’s sleep?
A. Adults need six to eight hours of sleep each night. If insomnia keeps you awake, it can affect your health, work performance, and quality of life. Not getting enough sleep is linked with serious risks like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Simple adjustments in lifestyle and routine can go a long way toward better sleep. Limit yourself to one caffeinated drink a day and avoid alcohol for three to four hours before bed. Regular exercise helps, as does eating light at night. Reduce stress with relaxation therapies. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and limit naps. Turn off your phone an hour before bedtime, and make your sleeping environment comfortable. If you still have trouble falling or staying asleep, talk with your doctor. It may be a sign of anxiety that a mental health expert can help with.
Q. When should I be screened for prostate cancer?
A. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, affecting about one out of eight men in the U.S. Screening can help find cancer early when it is often easier to treat. Despite new advancements in prostate cancer diagnosis, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test detects most prostate cancer. Talk with your doctor about when and how often you should be tested. Your screening schedule may depend on several factors, including your age, family medical history, race, and general health. When prostate cancer is detected early, men have more treatment options than ever. These may include active surveillance or minimally invasive procedures with less side effects than radical surgery or radiation therapy.
Q. How should I deal with my hip and knee pain?
A. Sooner or later, we all have joint pain. Hip and knee pain often results from the wear and tear of arthritis. Physical activity can help. Try low-impact, joint-friendly exercises like walking, biking, and swimming. If pain and stiffness increase, exercise less frequently or for shorter periods until your pain improves. Remember to warm up before and cool down after physical activity. Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can offer relief, too. Your doctor might suggest wraps and flexible braces, exercises to strengthen surrounding muscles and tendons, or pain relief injections. For severe arthritis, hip and knee replacement surgery can be an excellent solution. I welcome you to come in for an evaluation.