Men’s Health Tips to Help Keep Your ‘Car’ in Running Shape

Noe Lopez, FNP-C, Cucamonga Valley Medical Group

By Noe Lopez, FNP-C, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

It is common knowledge that most men are more interested in sports, cars, outdoor adventures, or the latest action movies than their own personal health.

As a medical practitioner, I become disheartened when I must share a new preventable diagnosis such as diabetes, heart disease or prostate cancer with a male patient. I truly feel that if men would take charge of their health with as much vigor as they follow their local sports team or take care of their vintage cars, then these health conditions could be prevented.

I would like to share with the men who are reading this (or more likely the significant others of men) some healthful tips to keep yourself healthy at any age. Men, if you are reading this, I want you to think of your body as your car. Think of me as your local “health mechanic” and the clinic that I work as the “mechanic shop” and let us talk “shop talk.”

First, you need to give your body the proper fuel to function correctly. I am not talking about the right octane level; I’m suggesting eating a healthy diet. In simple terms, focus on eating less of the foods that promote inflammation such as fast foods, processed foods, deli meats (bacon, sausage, pepperoni, etc.), high fat red meats and those sugary beverages.

Instead, try to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean (low fat) proteins, fish, beans/lentils, and unsalted nuts/seeds. Do not forget to drink at least a liter of water per day, which is 64 ounces.

Second, take that car of yours out for a ride, I mean, out for a walk. Aerobic activity is any exercise that gets the heart pumping and utilizes the large muscle groups. Some examples are brisk walking, running, cycling, hiking, or swimming.

This type of exercise has been found to help lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health, and even prevent dementia. Also try out some strength training throughout the week. Using free weights or resistance bands has also been found to promote weight loss and build more muscle mass. Having stronger muscles also helps to protect your bones from osteoporosis.

Third, limit or eliminate harmful chemicals to your body. If you use nicotine from any source (vaping, smoking, chewing), seek helpful resources to help you quit. Nicotine use has been linked to erectile dysfunction. Limit the alcoholic drinks to no more than 1 to 2 per day. Be cautious that excessive alcohol intake can lead to liver disease, high blood pressure and obesity which leads to other health conditions.

Fourth, keep your “car” in pristine condition with regular health screenings. Much like we take our car in for regular oil changes or other routine care, men deserve regular health screenings as well. Beginning at age 20, you should receive an annual physical exam to check your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body mass index and screen for type 2 diabetes and to make sure you are up to date on your preventative vaccines.

If you are over age 45, men should receive colorectal cancer screening and prostate cancer screening. There are two options for colorectal cancer screening (Cologuard or colonoscopy), you should ask your provider which option is best for you.

Last tip, make small changes every day. Sometimes starting healthy habits can be challenging but remember that minor changes can add up to big results. Some examples are drink water instead of soda or talking a walk instead of watching TV or choosing salad over fries.

Well, I hope this “shop talk” was useful and I was able to encourage you to make some small changes. As much as we value our cars, I encourage you to place an even higher value on your health.

Final words, as your health mechanic, I look forward to meeting you personally and partnering with you to improve your health.