Men often take better care of their cars than themselves. A tune-up every 3,000 to 5,000 miles? Of course. Check the brakes at 30,000? Without question. Ping in the engine? Get to the garage. If only they were as zealous about their own bodies and as responsive to anatomical warning signs.
Adapted from Psychology Today by Matthew Mintz, associate professor of medicine and director of the primary care clerkship at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., the following guidelines draw from the U.S. Preventative Health Services Task Force.
- Tune-up schedule: See a doctor twice in your 20s, thrice in your 30s and four times in your 40s. From 50 on, get checked annually.
- Fuel: Have no more than two alcoholic drinks a day. Don’t smoke. Eat varied foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and animal and vegetable protein. Limit saturated fat.
- Revving the engine: Be physically active at least 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Cholesterol: Have this blood test every five years, starting at age 35. Start at age 20 if you smoke or have diabetes, or if heart disease runs in your family.
- Colorectal cancer: Have a colonoscopy at age 50 and every 10 years thereafter; start earlier and do it more often if colon cancer runs in your family.
- Prostate cancer: Have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and/or digital rectal exam yearly starting at age 50, earlier if prostate cancer runs in your family.
- Blood pressure: Have this checked at every physical (see the tune-up schedule above).
- Diabetes: Also at every physical, have a blood sugar (glucose) test; this is especially important if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
- Obesity: Each time you go for a checkup, have your doctor measure your height and weight to calculate your body mass index—a calculation of weight and height to gauge total body fat in adults. If it’s greater than 25, see what you can do to lose weight.
- Emotional/sexual thermostat: Your doctor should ask about your recent sexual history to assess your risk for sexually transmitted diseases and should check on your recent emotional history—have you felt down, sad or manic? Depending on your answers, further tests or a referral may be in order.
- Aspirin: Talk to your doctor about taking a daily baby aspirin if you are older than 40, or if you are younger than 40 but smoke or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.
- Flu shot: Every year starting at age 50.
- Tetanus-diphtheria shot: Every 10 years throughout your life.
- Pneumonia shot: Once at age 65—earlier if you have health problems like lung disease.