Your 20’s

Your 20’s are an exciting time. You may be starting a career, travelling, casually working and just generally enjoying yourself. At this stage in life the chances are you’re still relatively healthy and it’s hard to imagine getting sick.

While it’s important to promote fun and exploration, you should remember that a healthy lifestyle now will pay off for the long-term. Young men can be confident, impressionable and provocative in which behaviours such as smoking, binge drinking with alcohol, experimenting with drugs and having unsafe sex is a common theme in this age group. However, young males are also vulnerable to emotional issues, which may lead to self-harm and suicide. Too much of anything, paired with everyday pressures, can also take their toll emotionally and mentally.

A focus on diet, nutrition and food choices is important during these years as there tends to be a higher intake of cheap, convenient and fast food during your 20’s compared to later decades. This may be linked to the level of importance we place on food as we get older.

Since young men may have an invincible persona, they may not necessarily seek the help they need. Therefore, it is important to implement some good health behaviours now, and find a GP you feel comfortable with and have an annual health check focusing on the following areas:

  • Weight and waist circumference
  • Blood pressure
  • Testicular examination for lumps or bumps
  • Blood cholesterol and glucose
  • Skin check – screening for skin cancer
  • Screening for sexually transmitted diseases/infections
  • Talk about any concerns with anxiety and/or depression

Your 30’s

Your 30’s can be a busy and exciting time in which many momentous occasions may occur such as building or growing your career, developing relationships (work, family, partners), possibly starting a family or paying off your first home. In the mix of it all you might also be trying to juggle work, family, social engagement and finances, which can be very stressful. It has been known that during this time in your 30’s, your health can take a bit of a backseat to other things in your life, which is why maintaining your fitness, strength and flexibility is very important and recognise how your lifestyle will impact on your body. Therefore, what you do now can directly affect your health in future years.

Increasing age is correlated to increased risk of developing chronic diseases. It is also well documented that changes in body composition e.g. increased fat mass, decreased muscle mass and bone density, is also linked to increased risk of chronic disease.

Nutrition also plays a pivotal role during this time, especially if you are planning to start a family. A healthy diet and good nutrition is paramount for the health of your sperm to optimise your chances of conceiving.

It’s worth your while getting a health check-up with your GP in your early 30’s to see how you’re travelling. Areas to focus on in this age group are:

  • Body composition – weight, waist circumference, fat mass, muscle mass, bone density
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose
  • Testicular examination for lumps or bumps
  • Skin check – screening for skin cancer
  • Screening for sexually transmitted diseases/infections
  • Talk about any emotional concerns with stress, anxiety and/or depression with your GP or health professional

Career pressures are bound to increase during this time in your life. Therefore, it’s important that you implement a health work-life balance to make time for your family, your friends and also take time out for yourself.

It’s advised that if you are a smoker then you should try to quit.

Your 40’s

During your 40’s, things can start to catch up with you. It can be a confronting time of transition from young adulthood to middle-age. During this time, you are probably working hard, feeling a bit run-down or wanting more energy, short on time and find you’re not getting as much quality time to do the things you enjoy in life. Responsibilities may stack up, which can interfere with the quality and quantity of sleep you are getting.

Juggling the demands of work and family commitments can be challenging, particularly if your body has started to remind you you’re not as young as you used to be. Men in this age bracket tend to lean towards all work and no play since they have worked hard to get where they are. This, however, should not be at the expense of your health.

There’s no point working for retirement only to find you’re not healthy enough to enjoy it, which is why there should be a large focus on mastering work-life balance if you have not done so in your 30’s.

It’s important to make sure you continue to get a regular check-up with your doctor (annually or six monthly), similarly to that in your 20’3 and 30’s. Make sure you mention any family history of prostate or bowel cancer as risk of both these diseases increase significantly after the age of 40. In addition to the general health check list in the previous decades, you may wish to add on the following:

  • Liver and kidney function blood test
  • Eye check
  • Prostate examination (blood and digital)
  • Hormones (blood/salivary/urinary), especially testosterone

Heart health and diabetes risk should be of priority at this age by watching what you eat and staying active whenever possible. Focus on achieving and maintaining healthy weight, muscle mass and bone density to decrease risk of disease and injuries as you age. If the pressures or work and other factors are contributing to stress, anxiety or depression it is important to address this with your GP or health practitioner. Consume alcohol in moderation and if you’re still smoking – stop!