One for the Dads
Health tips for each decade of fatherhood
Fatherhood is a privilege and we love the dads in our lives. We also know that it’s important that all men maintain good health.
Women continue to outlive men due to a number of biological and social factors, including lifestyle choices. Men have a higher likelihood to smoke, drink in excess, make unhealthy choices, and postpone trips to the doctor. When poor health habits stretch on for years and decades, it can lead to serious issues with consequences that can be difficult to undo.
Health conditions can lie dormant for long periods of time, showing symptoms only when damage has become significant. Preventative measures are key. A lifetime of good health choices around diet, exercise, sleep, and diligent and regular preventative check-ups go a long way.
In honor of Father’s Day, here are health tips for men to prioritize for each decade of life…and fatherhood.
Develop good habits and get to know your family history. Thinking about lifestyle habits can seem like a big challenge, but focusing on how you approach self-care will likely guide decisions and actions that will impact what your future and family will become. Focus on habits influencing your nutrition, physical fitness, sleep, mental health, and preventative care.
In your twenties, testosterone is running its highest. For some men, puberty can hit as late as this chapter of life, leaving them more prone to risky or impulsive behavior, and aggressive or violent tendencies. Poor management of anger and stress cause physical havoc on the body. It can be helpful to be proactive by learning self-control and anger management.
Next, aim for a balanced diet. According to a Massachusetts survey, women were 50% more likely to meet their daily recommended amount of five servings a day of fruits and vegetables.
Exercise regularly. Balance your plan with cardio, stretching, and lifting weights.
Develop good relationships with your doctors and specialists, even if you tend to postpone regular medical visits. Routine checkups are extremely important to prevent gradual threats to health that show no symptoms in early stages.
Get to know sex. In the United States, very few states offer comprehensive sex education in schools. Make sure you understand the complexities of sex and human sexuality as they are pillars of overall wellness.
Finally, limit alcohol consumption, avoid smoking, use protection when having sex, wear seat belts, avoid texting while driving, and protect your skin from sun damage using sunscreen. You’re already on your way to living a long and healthy life!
30s – 40s
As life seasons shift, stay active, eat well, and get sleep.. In your thirties, careers take off and more and more men transition into sedentary jobs behind a desk. This is not inherently bad as long as you keep moving, both throughout the day and have varied forms of exercise.
Consider financial health as part of your overall wellness. Finances are a big source of stress for many families. By learning how to manage money well by saving, investing, and spending wisely, you will set yourself and your family up to enjoy better health as a result.
Finally, learn to manage your work stress. It’s a common cause of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke. (Here’s a tip for stress management — exercise!)
Continue good habits, as your body will rely on them more to stay strong and healthy. Healthy sleep, nutrition, and exercise habits from your twenties and thirties will greatly improve how you look and feel. With years of regular exercise, your body’s strength, mobility, recovery, and overall function, though slower with age, will help fend off injuries and health problems. And, following years of proper money management, you can likely start looking forward to retiring.
While continuing your habits of nutrition, exercise, and sleep, you may need to tweak them as you reach your sixties. Exercise routines should include aerobic activity to improve balance and strength. As bones start to weaken with age, it is important to maintain strong muscles to keep strong bones.
As immune systems weaken with age, certain vaccines between ages 60-65 can keep serious health threats at bay: the flu shot, tetanus vaccine, zoster vaccine, shingles, and pneumococcal vaccine. Consult your primary care provider to receive new vaccines and specialist referrals if necessary.
Lastly, it’s time to consider who in your life can make health decisions for you if you are unable to. Take time to choose which trusted individual or individuals should have this important role.
Congratulations, you’re 70 years young and still kickin’! Time to schedule annual check-ups with your primary care provider to develop a personalized wellness plan, intended to scan for existing conditions rather than plan for prevention. If your specialist accepts Medicare, these visits will be covered financially. Ask about any conditions that may limit your mobility and ability to exercise regularly.
Your 70s and 80s will likely be a time of increasing health ailments, and certain care and prevention will keep you safe, healthy, and feeling well. If you are 55 or older and smoke or have quit within the last 15 years, your risk of lung cancer is higher and should be evaluated.
We love the fathers in our lives, and cannot emphasize enough the importance of men pursuing good health. By taking care of your bodies and mental health, you can enjoy a long, happy life!