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June 20, 2006 > Be a Man: Make Healthy Choices

Be a Man: Make Healthy Choices

by Washington Hospital

Men often embody the image of family protector. But the first step in protecting those you love is taking care of your own health and safety. Men who prioritize their own health and safety can avoid preventable health problems and reap the benefits of early detection and treatment of diseases.

Men's health issues are varied and range from alcoholism to prostate cancer and other cancers, diabetes, stroke, obesity, work-related injury, ulcers, reproductive health and arthritis. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nine million men have hypertension (high blood pressure), 50 million men have high cholesterol and eight million men have diabetes. Men's health problems affect not only the man but the people in his life as well. A man who looks out for his own health and safety can be giving a great gift to his family and friends.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for American men, according to the CDC. "There are lifestyle choices men of all ages can make to have a healthy heart," says Dr. David Berke, a cardiologist at Washington Hospital:

  • Maintain close to an ideal body weight for height and build

  • Don't smoke

  • Get regular exercise (30 minutes/three times a week) consisting of activities like brisk walking or moderate sports

  • Eat a healthy Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and olive oil

  • Avoid fast food

  • Avoid trans fats found in baked goods, vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, cookies, snack foods and other foods made with partially hydrogenated oils.

"All of these things can be done without even going to the doctor," Dr. Berke points out.

Dr. Berke recommends that men in their 30s visit a doctor to get a blood pressure reading and cholesterol screening so they have baseline numbers to work with as they age. Follow up on these numbers through periodic appointments with a healthcare provider over the years and "get checked for diabetes as you get older," Dr. Berke advises. A man who has a family history of heart disease should make sure his doctor is aware of that information, and should consult a physician before starting any new, rigorous exercise programs.

Keeping fit, eating well and routine medical appointments are key to good well care for any man and increase the chances of catching and treating problems if they arise. The CDC also recommends that men protect themselves from illness by getting appropriate vaccinations for certain jobs, lifestyle, travel plans or health conditions. Job stress and balancing home and work obligations poses a health risk to men that can be reduced with stress-relieving activities for body and mind. And men should never forget basic safety for themselves like careful driving, wearing seat belts, helmets, sunscreen and installing working smoke detectors in the home.

A healthy life for a man is a balanced life. Daily rituals like getting enough sleep, enjoying a hobby, playing sports, relaxing and being good to yourself can go a long way toward contributing to a healthy life.

Exercise and healthy food recommendations are available on the Washington Hospital web site, Click on the "InHealth" icon on the homepage and scroll to the bottom for Total Body Workout Forms.

For more information on specific health issues for men, visit

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