The majority of people out there don’t understand just how stressful being an investment banker can be. This has been my job for the past 10 years and in that time I’ve been working hard, long hours. I even work on weekends, so I hardly remember what a good night’s sleep feels like. I’ve always been proud of how much effort I put in my work, but I’ve noticed that all this work has had its toll on me.
These past couples of years I’ve realized just how much my body has been affected by long hours of hard work every day. I remember my college years and the difference is palpable. That’s why I decided to visit my physician and have a full body check. When the results came, everything was fine. I was just tired and my immune system was struggling.
My doctor told me that this is actually very common among working men and I got so curious that I started to do my own research. I’ve learned a lot since then and I want to share this information so you can start living a healthier life.
Did you know that women outlive men by 5 years? Women’s life expectancy is 81.2 while men’s is 76.4. And did you know that the leading cause of this gap is heart disease? Heart disease is, in most cases, a consequence of our lifestyle. Many things affect our heart in different ways; emotions, bad diets, lack of sleep, and unhealthy habits in general.
Top 3 causes of Death in American Men
Now, in order to understand the problem, we have to look at what’s causing it. Leaving unintentional injuries and accidents aside, the top three leading causes of death in American men are: heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD). These three diseases are responsible for 50% of all deaths.
|Chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD)||5.3|
Data Source: Statista
1. Heart Disease
Heart disease is basically a package of different conditions that can affect one’s heart. These diseases include blood vessel diseases, arrhythmias, heart defects, blood pressure, among many other things. These diseases can lead to heart attacks, chest pain or strokes. Heart disease can be caused by conditions one is born with, it can be caused by other medical conditions such as diabetes, overweight, obesity, or it can be the result of poor lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol intake, smoking, physical inactivity, poor diets, etc.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States (killing 321,000 men in 2013, which represents roughly 1 in every 4 male deaths).
Men are more prone to both suffer and die from heart disease than women. Heart disease doesn’t manifest itself in women until the age of 55 years old, while men can suffer from it much earlier. This may be due to the fact that male hormones may be linked to hypertension, high cholesterol, and obesity.
Heart disease can be quite the silent killer, with 50% of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease having no previous symptoms. Just because you don’t experience the usual symptoms, which include shortness of breath, excess sweat, palpitations, nausea, weakness, and dizziness, doesn’t mean you’re not at risk. Don’t miss your regular checkups with your physician and make sure that everything’s functioning as it should. If there is a problem, the sooner you tackle it, the better.
Causes of heart disease in men
Stress: Physical stress is one of the main causes of heart disease in men. Even though women are more and more involved in different types of work, the truth is that men endure more stress than women. Men are more involved in heavy physical activities and they have more limited ways to express and relieve stress in the workplace. For example, men are less likely to cry in public, which is one of the most common outlets for stress and pressure.
Atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis is when fatty plaques accumulate inside your arteries. This accumulation makes it difficult for your blood to flow and reach your organs and tissues. This is one of the most common causes of heart disease and it’s the result of problems that can be easily corrected such as bad diets, overweight, smoking, and lack of physical activity.
Abdominal fat: There’s a correlation between where your fat builds up in your body and heart disease. Abdominal fat is commonly linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes.
Other causes include: heart defects, high blood pressure, diabetes, abuse of alcohol, drugs and/or over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements and herbal remedies.
Cancer, as you may already know, is the result of cells growing out of control and not leaving enough space for normal cells. This makes it very difficult for the body to function as it should. Cancer is not just one disease because it can take many forms depending on the place where they start.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in men. 1 in 2 men are diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Common types of cancer in men:
Type of Cancer
3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (CLRD)
CLRD is the third cause of death in the United States if you leave out accidents and unintentional injuries. This disease includes all those diseases that affect the airways and other structures in the lungs, that includes airway obstruction and breathing-related issues such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
One of the main causes of CLRD is exposure to tobacco smoke, whether because you’re a smoker yourself or because you’re constantly exposed to it in a second-hand manner. Tobacco smoke is responsible for around 80% of all cases of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Smokers are ten times more likely to develop CLRD because cigarette smoke affects the lungs in a number of ways; it allows mucus to obstruct the airways which lead to bronchitis and it also leads to emphysema. Passive smokers are more likely to develop asthma and other respiratory problems.
Other causes of CLRD include occupational exposure, environmental exposure, and genetic factors. 19.2% of CLRD cases are caused by occupational exposure to vapors, gases, dust or fumes, while 15% of the cases are caused by indoor and outdoor pollution, and 5% is due to genetic problems.
Health Tips for Men: How to Live a Healthier Life
You may not know this, but 30% of men’s overall health is defined by genetics, while the other 70% depends entirely on our lifestyle choices. That means that 70% of our health is literally in our hands and we can control it if only we made better choices. Instead of condoning bad habits, let’s create new, healthy ones.
Smoking reduces your life expectancy for 10 years and as we’ve seen so far, it increases the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases. Quitting smoking has an incredible amount of benefits and the sooner you achieve this goal, the better. Once you stop smoking, your senses will gradually bounce back from the damage; your hearing will get sharper, you’ll have better vision, and you will able to actually taste things again. Your skin will clear and you will recover your oral health; no more bad breath and yellow teeth.
The part of your body that will benefit the most from your quitting, aside from your lungs, is your heart. Your blood will become thinner, which will decrease the risk of blood clots, your cholesterol level will reduce, and your risk of heart disease in general will decline even in the first 24 hours.
If you enjoy your drink a bit too much, it’s time to consider taking a hold of it. Not just for the sake of your mental health, but also for the sake of your body. Excessive drinking can cause liver cancer, oral cancer, laryngeal cancer, and it can also affect blood pressure.
We all like to drink alcohol from time to time, it’s just a matter of being mindful about it. A healthy level of alcohol intake is 14 units of alcohol a week. If you tend to lose track, it might be a good idea to note it down.
If your go-to drink is wine, 14 units equals to 175ml. If you prefer lager, ale or cider, 14 units equals 568ml. If you like spirits the most, then 24 units equal 25ml. Below, you’ll find an infographic to help you visualize the correct amount of alcohol you should drink per week.
Control your weight
Obesity is associated with a great deal of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obstructive sleep apnea, among many others. Obesity can be caused by many things as well, such as a bad diet, a sedentary lifestyle, genetics, hormones that affect fat regulation, and also psychological illnesses.
The most common cause of obesity is intaking a lot more calories than you burn off, which means: eating too much and moving too little. Consuming fat and sugar creates energy, but if you don’t do anything with it, your body will store the surplus as fat. The average calorie intake for an average, physically active man is of 2,500 calories per day. That can sound like a lot, but if you eat two burgers with fries and a milkshake, you’ll be intaking around 1,500 calories in just one meal.
Your calorie intake is something you can easily control by eating the right foods, which includes: protein, vegetables, fruits, dairy, grains and legumes. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, it’s recommended you should eat five to 6 servings per day. A vegetable serving can be a cup of raw veggies, half a cup of cooker veggies or vegetable juice, while a fruit serving can be a piece of small or medium fresh fruit, half a cup of canned or fresh fruit, fruit juice, or one-fourth cup of dried fruit.
Avoid processed foods that contain refined white sugar, flour, and saturated fat, and replace them with whole grain foods. Keep control of your portions by weighing the amount of each element on your plate so you can know exactly how many calories you’re intaking. Avoid high-calorie foods and opt for the low-calorie versions of what you like most. Stay away from junk food, sugar, trans fats like cookies, cakes, pies, doughnuts, etc.
Increase your water intake:
You should drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day, not just because you should keep hydrated, but because water flushes all of the toxins out of your body. Drinking enough water helps relieve constipation, it increases your metabolism by 24 to 30%, it maximizes physical performance which will help you stay active for longer, it aids kidney function, and it can even promote clear thinking. There is such a thing as drinking too much water, so if you notice that your urine is too clear, stop drinking water for a while.
If you’re not an active man, the sooner you start, the better. The most effective way to prevent weight gain and obesity in general is to live an active life. There are many types of exercise for you try, and there are also many simple things you can do to be more active; take the stairs instead of the elevator, spend weekends doing outdoor activities, go for a run around your neighborhood every day, etc.
It’s okay if you don’t enjoy going to the gym, but that’s not an excuse to not exercise. You could take up a sport, like soccer, tennis, kickboxing, boxing, etc., you could take up swimming, running, bike riding, even dancing, and you can definitely exercise at home with the help of the Internet.
You should do 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, and do a full body strength workout at least twice a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week and do a full body strength workout twice a week or more. Consider exercises such as: HIIT workouts, cardio workout, yoga, weight-lifting, etc.
Create a balance between your work and your life:
We all know how important our work is, and the more we like it, the more we want to do it. But the key to a healthy life is to create a balance and avoid excess as much as we can. Never sacrifice a good night’s sleep if you can avoid it. Sleep at least 6 hours of the recommended 8; sleep allows our minds and our bodies to recover from the day and it also improves our productivity.
When it comes to your work, the best way not to let it take over your life is to organize as best you can. Plan your days, make lists of everything you need to do and stick to your daily routine. Always try to be efficient and allow yourself a few minutes during the day to wind down and take a walk, read a book, call a loved one or have a drink with a friend.
Medical body check:
Body checks are not something you should overlook. There are many diseases that don’t have symptoms in the early stages, body checks allow you to be informed of your body, and in case anything shows up, you’ll have the chance to correct it and tune your body back to health.
Now, body checks can vary depending on the age. 20 year olds are very socially active, they love to party, and hang out with friends, which means they’re more likely to eat out more often, drink more, they’re also more likely to smoke and do drugs, but they’re also very hard working whether they’re occupied with their studies or a particular job, which means they get less rest. These type of people should get an annual physical exam that includes blood pressure checks and height and bodyweight checks. Due to their lifestyle, they should be checked for heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, liver problems, and anemia.
30 year olds have a different lifestyle, but it also takes its toll. People in their 30s experience a lot more stress at work and in their personal lives. They are also more likely to feel tension and high pressure, especially if they have a family to maintain or a serious relationship to balance along with everything else. Your 30s are usually hard-working years where your aim is to build something for yourself and to give more shape to your life. Wrinkles start to appear at this age and physical activities get more difficult, especially if you weren’t very active to begin with. People in their 30s should also get an annual physical exam and get screened for skin cancer, oral cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, infections, and also heart disease, especially if there’s family history or risk factors involved.
40 and 50 year olds face the most risks due to their age. This highly depends on the kind of lifestyle they’ve lead so far. Some of these health risks include prostate cancer, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, hormonal changes, among many other things. People in their 40s and 50s should also get an annual physical exam and get screened for prostate cancer, diabetes, and they should also get eye and oral examinations as well. Not to mention that every time there’s any kind of ailment you should visit your physician; the truth is at this age one can’t simply bounce back from things as easily as a 20 year old.
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