It’s International Men’s Health Week and we’re celebrating with five easy ways to make sure you’re keeping wellness top of mind all year long with daily habits proven to benefit you physically and mentally for a healthier, happier you.
1. Eat your way to better health
OK guys, fess up, when was the last time you did an honest check-in on the current state of your diet? It’s easy to get comfortable eating the same rotation of meals, rarely giving it much thought—and chances are, you’re being a little more indulgent on the weekends, too.
It’s always a good idea to occasionally take inventory and perform a little diet maintenance. If you have health benefits that cover a dietitian, naturopath, or nutritionist, why not take advantage and book an appointment? Consulting with a nutritional pro takes the guesswork out of whether or not you’re fueling yourself adequately with the right balance of macro and micronutrients.
If you don’t have benefits—or don’t care to go quite that far—then look to one of the longest-standing and healthiest diets on the planet, The Mediterranean Diet (Med Diet). The Med Diet is the diet eaten by the most centenarians in the world and has been shown to reduce risk for heart disease, Parkinson’s, Type 2 diabetes, it helps to lower inflammation, and also protects against cognitive decline including the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Core Principles Of The Mediterranean Diet
1. Never eat until completely full.
2. Stop around 80% full and eat mostly plants, fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds
3. Eat fish often and meat only occasionally.
4. Get plenty of healthy fats like avocado and olive oil, whole grains, and Greek yogurt.
5. Drink alcohol in moderation.
When you’re taking inventory of your current meal plan, ask yourself where you can:
1. Eat a little less meat and add more fish and seafood.
2. Sneak in more servings of fruits and vegetables, and olive oil.
3. Swap in whole grains in place of highly processed, refined carbs.
4. Cut back on cocktails.
A few easy swaps will go a long way for better health.
2. Get Enough Sleep, Really
If you’re between 26 and 64 years old, The National Sleep Foundation says you should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. But are you really getting that on a regular basis? Chances are, you’re not, when you consider that the average American only gets 6.8 hours of sleep each night.
Luckily, technology has come a long way and our smartphones have settings to help us schedule in less screen and more sleep time, and help us stick to the schedule with handy features that automatically switch your phone to quiet mode after a certain time at night and more. Here’s a list of options to explore.
Once you’ve got a sleep-wake schedule to aim for, there are a few other things you can do to ensure better sleep in general. Avoid having caffeine after noon and skip the nightcap. A lot of people think that an evening drink will help lull them to sleep faster, but the truth is alcohol hinders sleep by sedating you initially (which is different from natural sleep), and then later on robbing you of precious REM sleep, leaving you feeling even more groggy the next day.
More Tips For Better Sleep
- Turn electronics off about an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from our phones and TV devices interferes with the production of melatonin in the brain, which will make falling asleep even harder.
- Sleep in a cool room around 60 to 67° F. Not only will you fall asleep more quickly in this temperature range but you’ll have a more restful sleep.
- Take an Epsom salt bath before bed. Epsom salts also contain magnesium, a mineral known for relaxing muscles.
- Take a magnesium supplement about an hour before bed, a supplement known for inducing sleep.
3. Move Your Body
There are loads of reasons to get your body moving for better health and longevity. One of the most compelling is that people who exercise an hour a day are 40 percent less likely to die prematurely compared to sedentary people who only get 30 minutes of activity or less per week.
A regular workout regimen has been proven to reduce your risk for heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and some cancers. It’s also a boon for mental health and well-being, helping to reduce stress and anxiety and boost mood. It helps to sharpen the mind and improve focus for better productivity, as well.
Exercise also improves your quality of sleep, shrinks your fat cells, and helps you maintain more muscle mass as you age, which is important for a slew of bodily functions including injury prevention. If you don’t workout regularly, you’re at risk for losing 80% of your muscle mass by the age of 65—a considerable percentage for a relatively young age.
So, don’t be among the estimated 67% of Americans that have a gym membership they never use and start a realistic workout program that you’ll enjoy and stick with. If going it on your own isn’t for you, try a group training class or join a team. There are also countless ways to exercise right at home thanks to all the virtual solutions that emerged during the pandemic, so you have plenty of options to choose from. The important thing is that you actually do it.
The World Health Organization says to aim for 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week, which is anywhere from 21 to 43 minutes a day, depending on where you’re starting from. Start with something you can be sure to fit in consistently and when you’re ready, add in a little more. The key here is committing to a schedule you will keep.
4. Schedule A Guys’ Night
Making sure you’re carving out time for social events with friends and family may not seem like it’s as important to good health as working out and eating right, but it really is. According to one major study, a lack of social connection has been shown to be just as bad for health as being obese or smoking cigarettes.
As social creatures, we not only want to be surrounded by others for a sense of bonding and belonging, we actually need it. Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education writes that strong social ties make it twice as likely for us to live longer lives, have strong immune systems, and recover faster from disease.
Sadly, the opposite is true for those who are isolated and lack social connection. So, kick off a group chat with your friends and get some outings planned for this summer—or, just send them this article and tell them their health depends on that night out.
5. Laugh More
If you’re not sure where to go on your night out, may we suggest a comedy club? No kidding, laughter is more than just a good time chuckling away, it has some proven health benefits.
According to the Mayo Clinic, not only is laughter a good strategy for relieving stress but it has some pretty cool short- and long-term physical health benefits. In the short-term, while you’re trying to catch your breath from laughing so hard, your body is actually taking in more oxygen-rich air than usual, which benefits your muscles, heart, and lungs. At the same time, your brain is releasing more feel-good endorphins, the same ones you get from a good workout.
In the long run, laughing more often has some pretty great benefits, too. It can counter the effects of depression and anxiety, all while improving mood and self-esteem, it’s a natural pain reliever, which could be a nice, natural help for those of you with long-term chronic pain, and laughing also releases neuropeptides that help to fight off stress and illness, bolstering your immune system in the process.
Ways to laugh more are by surrendering yourself with your funny, lighthearted friends, following more meme accounts on social media, opting for comedies and stand-up performances on your favorite streaming services and saving the drama for another night, sourcing funny podcasts, reading funny books, or going out on the town for an old-school comedy show. You’ll be laughing all the way to good health!
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