Want to look and feel your best at every stage of life? Experts at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center talk about six tips for men of all ages to get healthy and reduce their risk of cancer.

“Practicing these healthy behaviors is important for all men, regardless of age,” says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director of MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center.

  1. Stay strong.Although the “dad bod” has enjoyed a recent increase in popularity, that stubborn belly fat can be bad for your health. One way to combat unwanted weight is to hit the gym a few times a week.

Regular strength training increases the body’s basal metabolic rate, which means the body burns more calories even when not working out. It also prevents muscle loss, which affects men after the age of 30, while increasing bone density.

Maintaining a healthy weight also decreases the risk of developing certain diseases like cancer. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week.  

  • Eat a plant-based diet.Everyone enjoys a good home-cooked meal. Eating healthy doesn’t mean having to give up food; it’s all about making good choices.

As you get older, your metabolism slows down, especially for men after age 40. A healthy, plant-based diet can help you stay lean. To further reduce cancer risks, eat red meat in moderation. Eat no more than 18 ounces of cooked red meat per weak. Avoid processed meats, like deli meats, pepperoni, bacon and sausage.

  • Beware of the sun. When spending time outdoors it is important to limit your sun exposure, no matter your age. Remember it’s best to stay in the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s UV rays are strongest. You can also protect your skin by wearing sun protective clothing and applying SFP 30 sunscreen and lip balm.
  • Limit alcohol. The key to safe alcohol consumption is quantity. Did you know that if men consume alcohol, they should not exceed two drinks per day? This does not mean that they can skip drinking Sunday through Friday and have 14 drinks on Saturday. Drinking even a small amount of alcohol increases your chances of developing cancer. Since men are more likely to binge drink than women, it’s important to drink alcohol in moderation. One serving of alcohol is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of liquor or 5 ounces of wine.
  • Don’t smoke. Despite tobacco use continuing to decline across all male age groups, about 90 percent of lung cancer deaths are still due to smoking. It’s important to avoid all tobacco products, and stay away from lighting up for the occasional social smoke. 

And, don’t think that smoking a pipe or a cigar is any easier on the body. A large cigar has the same amount of tobacco as a whole pack of cigarettes. Remember, e-cigarettes have not been proven as a safe alternative to smoking, and they have not been proven effective to help people quit smoking regular cigarettes. The aerosol produced by e-cigarettes has the same harmful toxins found in glue and paint. It is not just a water vapor. They also can cause issues similar to cigarette smoking such as coughing, chest pain and a raised heart rate.

Focus on spending time with friends and family instead of smoking. Friends, family and co-workers prefer your company when you’re happy, healthy and smoke-free.

  • Get annual check-ups.  Focus on your health at every age. Make yearly check-ups a priority and talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of screenings. Your doctor can help create a personalized health plan so you can stay healthy throughout your life.

Keeping up with health screenings, drinking less, avoiding tobacco, eating healthy foods, protecting yourself from the sun and getting fit at the gym can all help you reduce your risk for cancer and other diseases.

Learn more about ways to stay healthy and help reduce your risk of cancer at mdanderson.org/prevention