When It Comes to Health, Gender Matters: Top Health Tips for Men and Women

June 2019

Staying healthy can be hard. With so many different health suggestions available, it can be difficult to know which to try or trust. Plus, when it comes to health advice, gender plays a significant role in some conditions. Follow these tips to maximize your health at any age — whether you are male or female.

3 Health Tips Every Woman Should Know

1. Schedule health screenings

Women need to pay special attention to their gynecological and breast health. The American Cancer Society recommends a Pap smear every three years starting at age 25 to screen for cervical cancer. Women who are 50 to 74 years old and at average risk for breast cancer should get a mammogram every two years, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Talk to your doctor about the tests you need based on your age and family history. You may need to start screenings sooner depending on your risk factors.

2. Take your vitamins

The female body has different nutritional needs, making some vitamins and minerals more important. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need more B12 (2.6 mcg instead of the usual 2.4 mcg), according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Because folate deficiency is more common in women of childbearing age, the Office on Women’s Health advises women take 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid before and during pregnancy. Extra iron is also needed to replace the iron that is lost monthly during menstruation. Thus, the NIH recommends pre-menopausal women take 18 mg of iron daily. After menopause, the amount of iron women need decreases to 8 mg daily, but the amount of calcium needed increases. After age 50, women need additional calcium, 1,200 mg each day versus 1,000 for younger women, according to the NIH.

3. Fit in the right type of fitness

Exercise is important for maintaining a healthy body weight at every age. Working out also prevents bone loss and osteoporosis, which is a higher risk for women. The National Osteoporosis Foundation found that 80 percent of the 10 million people with osteoporosis are women. Weight-bearing exercises that force your body to work against gravity are best for building bone strength, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. They recommend including at least 30 minutes of lifting weights, walking, hiking, jogging, playing tennis or dancing as part of your daily routine.

3 Health Tips Every Man Should Know

1. Visit your doctor

Survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that men are more than twice as likely as women to have not seen a doctor within the previous two years. Skipping the doctor can cut your life short. If you’re healthy and under 30, experts at Duke University Health System recommend seeing a primary care physician every two to three years. After age 50, get an annual physical. See a doctor right away if you’re experiencing troubling symptoms, like chest pain, black stools or vision loss, because these can be signs of a serious problem.

2. Pay attention to your heart health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S. Although quitting smoking is a no-brainer to improve heart health, the Harvard Medical School also encourages men to be mindful of their body weight and stress levels. Regular exercise and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can keep your blood pressure low and cholesterol in check, which keep your heart healthy and strong.

3. Tend to your emotional well-being

Men are more likely to commit suicide, according to the Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The advocacy group Mental Health America also found that men are less likely to talk about mental health, which makes problems worse. Caring for your emotional well-being is nothing to be ashamed of — it’s a sign of strength and self-awareness. If you or a loved one is experiencing signs of depression, anxiety or another mental health condition, find an experienced professional to speak with.

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