The most important guidelines for a healthy lifestyle after age 50 are the same for men and women at any age:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Stay at a healthy weight.
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
  • Be physically active.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • If you drink alcohol, have no more than two drinks a day (standard drink is: 12 ounces of beer/wine cooler, 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits).
  • Get routine exams and screenings.

Following these guidelines can help men age in good health and reduce the risk of many diseases that are more common in older men like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Even men who have not followed these guidelines until now can benefit from making healthy changes. It’s never too late to start making good choices.

What is a healthy diet for men over age 50 and why is it important?

A healthy diet can help men over age 50 reduce their risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some types of cancer.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products are healthy choices. Lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts are good sources of protein, too. For heart health and weight management, it’s important to eat foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.

A registered dietitian is the best source of information about a healthy diet at any age. (See references for other helpful resources.)

How much and what type of activity is good for men after age 50?

Physical activity is the best way for men over age 50 to improve their heart health, muscle strength, flexibility, and balance. Physical activity helps reduce the risk of some diseases, including dementia.

Aerobic or cardio exercise gets the heart pumping and uses large muscle groups. Walking, biking, and swimming are all aerobic exercises. Strength training involves using weights to build up muscle. Working out with dumbbells or on weight machines are examples of strength training.

Experts recommend both types of exercise. Men who have not been active should consult their doctor before starting an exercise program and select activities they enjoy to increase their chance for success. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise (brisk walking) a week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.

Does quitting smoking after age 50 make a difference in a man’s health?

It is never too late to quit smoking. As soon as a smoker quits, the body begins to heal the damage caused by smoking.

Smokers who quit quickly notice they can breathe easier, have more energy, lose the “smoker’s cough” and have a better sense of taste and smell.

For long-term health, quitting smoking lowers the risk of hearth attack, stroke, and high blood pressure — diseases that are more common in men over age 50 than in younger men.

Quitting smoking can help men over age 50 feel better, be more active with family and friends, and enjoy their second half of life in better health.

What health screenings are important for men over age 50?

Screenings are tests that look for diseases in their early stages, before symptoms develop. Which screenings a man should have and how often depend in part on his family health history, personal health history, and lifestyle habits.

The following list includes some of the most important screenings for men over age 50 but does not include all possible screenings. Men over age 50 should consult a physician about what screenings to have and how often.

Blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other diseases. A blood pressure check is an easy, painless, noninvasive screening that can be done in the doctor’s office. According to the American Heart Association, blood pressure should be checked at least once every two years, beginning at age 20.

Cholesterol. High cholesterol increases the risk for heart disease, and stroke. A blood test is used to measure cholesterol level. The American Heart Association wants everyone over age 20 who does not have heart disease to have a cholesterol test every four to six years. People with known heart disease or certain other conditions may need to have their cholesterol level checked more often.

Prostate cancer. A simple blood test called the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test can find early prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests that all men over age 50 talk to their doctor about having a PSA test and understand the risks and benefits of the test.

African-American men have a higher risk than white men for prostate cancer at a younger age and should start talking to their doctor about the test when they are in their 40s.

Colon cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that all men should be screened for colon cancer starting at age 50 until age 75. Several types of screening are available to find polyps in the colon that could develop into colon cancer. Men over age 50 should talk about the different types of colon cancer screening with their doctor.

Men with a family history of colon cancer should talk to their doctor about screening at a younger age and those who are over age 75 should talk to their doctor about whether they need to continue being screened.

Is there a connection between men’s health over age 50 and sexual health?

Several scientific studies suggest that chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease affect a man’s ability to perform sexually. The more severe the disease, the more severe the erectile dysfunction. Men over age 50 experiencing sexual problems should talk to their doctor to find out if a medical condition is causing the problems.

Are there specific healthy lifestyle guidelines for African-American men over age 50?

African-American men are more likely than men of other races to have certain diseases and at a younger age. Some examples include obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. To be as healthy as possible after age 50, African-American men should start talking to their doctor about health screenings and disease prevention early.