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Women's Health

A Healthier Husband

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But there's hope: You have the power to motivate your guy to do the right thing for himself. "Nearly 80 percent of men in our survey reported that their spouse or significant other influences their decision to go to the doctor," Dr. Kellerman says.

Best of all, you can make a difference without badgering him or making yourself nuts. In fact, your actions may do your talking for you. When health economists Tracy A. Falba, Ph.D., from Duke University, and Jody L. Sindelar, Ph.D., from Yale, analyzed the lifestyle habits of some 6,000 couples, they found that a woman's own healthy changes often prompted her husband to follow suit. Men whose wives quit smoking were eight times more likely to kick the habit, too, compared to those whose spouses continued to light up. If women started having yearly flu shots, their husbands were six times more likely to get vaccinated themselves.

There are other motivators as well. Here's what top men's health experts and regular guys say works.

Health Hurdle #1: Checkups and Screening Tests

Smart nudge: Get yours done at the same time.

Men see their doctors for preventive care about half as often as women do, reports the national Men's Health Network. While they may not need as many checkups as we seem to (all those gyno visits!), they do need more than they're getting. This gap is one reason the average life expectancy for men is only 75.2 years, compared to 80.4 years for us. "Women are more accustomed to going to doctors regularly for gynecological exams and pregnancy visits. Also, seeing a doctor isn't viewed as a weakness," says Mark A. Moyad, M.D., M.P.H., a preventive-medicine expert at the University of Michigan Medical Center. "The challenge is helping guys get the regular care that prevents major health problems — or catches them early."

Your best strategy? Make it a joint project: Go for your routine checkups together. "Women and men have many identical health issues," Dr. Moyad notes. "Both sexes need to protect their hearts; lower their risks for diabetes, stroke, and cancer; and be alert for signs of osteoporosis and depression." Dr. Moyad and his wife go for their annual cholesterol and other screening tests together. "It even fosters a little healthy competition," he says. "We each try to have the best numbers."

Say it like this: I'll get my blood pressure and cholesterol checked with you. "Most men will agree to go," says Dr. Moyad. "Now it's a partnership."

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