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April 2nd, 2009
05:00 PM ET

How can men stay healthy as they get older?

As a new feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers’ questions. Here’s a question for Dr. Gupta.

Asked by Bill, Dawsonville, Georgia

“I am a pretty healthy 50-year-old guy, but I notice a lot of my friends and colleagues in the same age group are starting to get heart disease and prostate cancer. What is your advice for men wanting to stay a step ahead of potential health concerns?”

Answer:

Thanks for the question. I’m happy to hear you’re interested in health prevention during the prime years of your life. You might be surprised to know that many men don’t get regular health check-ups. It’s interesting when you think about it: Many men tend to focus on their outer appearance around age 50 - get new clothes, new haircut maybe. But when it comes to regular health screenings, they often skip them! The problem is, age 50 is when potential health issues develop.

All men (and women) should be getting annual physicals and screenings for cancer and heart disease. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer for men in the United States and it is often preventable. Keeping your weight down and your vital signs at a healthy level are two of the easiest things a person can do to reduce their risk. In addition to annual check-ups with your general physician, get your eyes examined at least once every two years.

If you’re like me, you might have trouble remembering when your last appointment was. But no excuses! One easy solution is to schedule your annual check-up for the week of your birthday. You’ll likely never forget.

One last piece of advice, don’t let fitness be the first thing to fall off your schedule. It always seems to, especially when life gets busy. But exercise is truly the single best thing a person can do for a long health life. It is not only good for your heart, your brain, and your body weight but also relieves stress. Some studies even show that people who work out are overall happier than those who don’t.

Bottom line: Investing time in your health now, will pay off years down the road. Best of luck, Bill!


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.