3 Ways Men Can Protect Their Long-Term Health

Learn why abdominal fat poses a health risk—and what to do about it.

man making smoothie

Medically reviewed in February 2022

Updated on March 11, 2022

There are a lot of health issues that become more common with age. For men, this includes an increased risk for heart disease and prostate problems. But many men also struggle with another notable health risk, increased abdominal fat.  

Regardless of overall weight, having a large amount of belly fat increases the risk of heart disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure. But there is also some evidence that increased abdominal fat can also take a toll on men's self-esteem, activity level, and overall well-being. 

Researchers from Odense University Hospital in Denmark polled 598 Danish men between the ages of 60 and 74, using a questionnaire that asked about quality-of-life factors such as physical ability, vitality, and social and emotional health. The researchers also measured the men’s body composition and testosterone levels. The study found that a big belly had the biggest impact on a man’s general health, and that as men’s waistlines grew, their quality of life and sense of well-being tumbled. Low testosterone, by comparison, had little effect on the men’s lives.

Taking steps to maintain a healthy weight over time is a powerful way to protect your long-term health and quality of life. Some proven strategies:

  • Follow a healthy diet. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Make sure you get a linited amout of healthy undaturated fats, like olive oil and avocado while curbing intake of salt, sugar, unhealthy saturated fats and alchohol. 
  • Get regular physical activity. Most adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity. Keep in mind, if you can get closer to 300 minutes of moderate exercise or 150 minutes of more strenuous activity on a weekly basis, it’s even better. In fact, the more exercise you get, the greater the health benefits, experts advise.
  • Get enough sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours of quality shut-eye each night. Why? Poor sleep affects more than your alertness and energy level. It also affects your metabolism and may contribute to weight gain as well as obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.

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