Five of the top ten health conditions related to men’s health and aging are heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, and depression. All five are highly correlated to weight gain and obesity. To be even more specific, the location of fat storage in men is most important. Men with the highest risk are individuals who store belly fat above all other areas.
Here are a few tips to learning about and reducing risk:
- Get checked out by your doctor. Health screenings are available for all of the above conditions. Schedule your annual physical, request a heart scan and calcium score, verify your fasting blood sugar and triglyceride levels, schedule a body check with your dermatologist, schedule your colonoscopy, ask for a body composition analysis, and learn how to recognize depression symptoms, such as anger, irritability, fatigue or apathy.
- Lose weight. Optimal male abdominal circumference should be lower than 37” according to the Heart Foundation. Another quick check is to be sure the waist measurement is smaller than the chest and hips. If the ratio is off, risk increases. Sometimes weight isn’t the best measurement; and oftentimes, BMI is not helpful since many men have higher BMI values due to significant muscle mass. Body fat percentage and/or a body shape index (ABSI) are more reliable.
- Meet with an anti-aging or age-management health specialist to measure hormone levels. Unfortunately, testosterone doesn’t get stored for future use when production declines. Instead, the stored fat holds estrogen as it does in women and further suppresses testosterone production. Reduced testosterone lowers energy and motivation, reduced energy decreases likelihood of exercise, reduced exercise increases risk of depression, depression increases poor lifestyle decisions such as diet, alcohol and other risk behaviors, etc. See the correlation.
- Exercise. Resistance training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are both proven to increase testosterone levels, which in turn help to build muscle, shed stored fat, and increase endorphin production helping to elevate mood.
- De-stress. Find your best strategy. It could be meditation, yoga, music, art, cooking, gardening, etc. Just discover what works and repeat often.
June is Men’s Health month. Safe and effective interventions are available. Men don’t always like to talk about health, so they may need a push in the right direction. Encourage the men in your life to identify their risks through health screenings, lab testing, body composition measurement, and self-reflection. Understanding the risks is the first step toward optimal health and wellness.