Trusted medical advice from the
American Academy of Family Physicians.

Men’s Guide to Preventive Health Care

It is up to us to take charge of our health. Focusing on your physical and mental health can prevent a lot of conditions and injuries that can lead to illness and death. Men have some different health care needs than women. The tips below can help men live long and healthy lives.

Path to improved health

Eat a variety of foods to balance your diet. Vegetables and fruits are key to getting the right nutrients. Include lean protein, such as fish and poultry, and high-fiber foods. Limit your intake of sugar, sodium (salt), and saturated fat.

Men should get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. This could be walking, jogging, bicycling, or swimming. Sports, such as basketball and tennis, count as well. Men also should do exercises to strengthen their muscles. This can lower your risk of falls and injuries. It is especially important as you age. Regular exercise helps to manage your weight. It can reduce your risk of certain conditions and cancer. This includes heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Increasing your amount of exercise each week can lead to weight loss.

There are other lifestyle changes men should make to maintain their health:

  • Lose weight if you’re overweight.
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day.
  • Protect your skin from the sun.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Practice safe sex.
  • Avoid risky or harmful actions or choices. Extreme sports and stunts increase your chance of injury or death. Wear seatbelts in moving vehicles. Wear helmets when riding bicycles and motorcycles. Always avoid texting while driving.

It is also important to consider mental health. To start, you should manage your stress levels. If you become anxious or depressed, get help right away. Treatment, in the form of therapy, medicine, and a support system, can improve your condition. If you have suicidal thoughts, call 911 or 1-800-273-8255. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open all day, every day.

Things to consider

Diet and exercise play big roles in your day-to-day health. They can help lower blood pressure and levels of bad cholesterol. However, preventive health care is more than that. It is about listening to your body and knowing how to prevent disease. The goal is to manage your health in a way that avoids health issues or catches them before they start.

One way to go about this is to see your primary care doctor at least once a year for a routine checkup. You should not visit your doctor only when you are ill. Another way is to stay on top of shots and screenings. Shots keep your immune system strong. Screenings find problems early on and can lead to more successful outcomes. Below are some examples of shots and screenings for men. Talk to your doctor about other needs based on your health and family history.

  • Every 6 to 12 months, get dental and eye exams.
  • Every year, get a flu vaccine.
  • Every 1 to 2 years, get your blood pressure checked. Talk to your doctor about how often you should have your cholesterol levels tested. The results can help predict and prevent your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • As an adult, get the Tdap shot. This protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Every 10 years after that, get the Td booster vaccine.
  • Starting at age 50, get regular tests for colon cancer.
  • Around age 60, get vaccinated for conditions, such as shingles and pneumonia.

Health insurance plans cover preventive health care. This includes most screenings, shots, and visits. If you have a health issue, follow your doctor’s treatment orders. They aim to relieve or remove symptoms and prevent the issue from getting worse.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What is the purpose of preventive health care?
  • How do I know which shots and screenings to get, and when?
  • How do I know what preventive services my health insurance pays for?
  • Should I take any medicines, vitamins, or supplements to prevent illness or injury?


National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus: Health Screening for Men

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Men: Eat Right, Stay Healthy

United States Department of Agriculture:

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