If you are like most men, you don’t know what your prostate does. A 2019 study commissioned by the European Association of Urology showed that 3 out 4 men don’t know the role of their prostate. This is despite the prostate being an important part of male reproductive and sexual function.
THE AGING PROSTATE
As men age, the prostate can become enlarged. This enlargement can lead to lower urinary tract symptoms starting in the 40s. By the time men reach the age of 60, the majority report evidence of lower urinary tract symptoms like decreased urinary flow and increased urinary frequency. The primary culprit for these symptoms is usually this age-related enlargement of the prostate, also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH for short.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS
The first step for any man experiencing symptoms is to always see a doctor. Only a doctor can determine the cause of your symptoms and work with you to identify a path forward. If your symptoms are caused by BPH, the primary treatment options are prescription drugs or surgeries. If the symptoms are not significant enough to impact your quality of life, a doctor may recommend “watchful waiting” which means they will continue to monitor your symptoms over time.
Many men with lower urinary tract symptoms turn to natural dietary supplements. A quality extract of the saw palmetto berry, known scientifically as the lipidosterolic extract of the plant Serenoa repens, is the most popular and most researched natural ingredient in the world for prostate health. Before taking saw palmetto extract or any other dietary supplement, it is advisable to talk to your doctor.
EXERCISE AND YOUR PROSTATE
It has been said that prevention is the best medicine. If you want to maintain a healthy prostate, there are some things you can do. Research shows that living a healthy lifestyle with a well-balanced diet is key. And one of the best prevention techniques is to get regular physical exercise.
Regular exercise of at least 30 minutes a day of low-moderate intensity, helps maintain your weight and an ideal body mass index (BMI), which has been shown to help keep your prostate healthy, while providing other important benefits like decreasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. It turns out that exercise is not only healthy for your heart, but also for your prostate.
According to researchers in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, a study involving more than 30,000 men, there is an inverse relationship between physical activity and BPH symptoms. Meaning men who were more active were less likely to suffer from BPH. Even low- to moderate-intensity physical activity, such as walking regularly at a moderate pace, showed there were meaningful health benefits.
EASY WAYS TO GET EXERCISE
We can’t control our age, but we can partially control how we feel as we age. Maintaining a good quality of life requires an investment of time and energy. It is important to listen to your body and talk to your doctor if you experience changes in your health. And, importantly, keep moving to help maintain your overall health. This doesn’t mean you need to join a gym. Studies have shown that short bursts of moderate activity over the course of the day have positive cumulative effects. One approach is to reframe daily activities into opportunities for exercise. Simple steps you can incorporate into your life include:
- walking everywhere briskly
- taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- parking at the farthest spot from the entrance of a store
- carrying your grocery bags in your arms instead of a cart
- being vigorous while doing house or yard work
And if you want to get a more structured workout at home, there are many free apps for people of all fitness levels that can inspire you to move. For example, you can download a highly rated free app like MapMyWalk or the Johnson & Johnson Official Seven Minute Workout. And as always, be sure to check with your doctor before engaging in a new exercise routine.
Incorporating movement and exercise into your life is truly a state of mind. You can repurpose simple daily activities into opportunities for exercise with a change in mindset. And being more purposeful about moving is not just good for your aging prostate, it’s good for your overall health and quality of life.