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Ray Bruce, Ph.D.

Want to be alive to experience your own death?

Here's what to look out for if you're a male and live in the United States. Select your age group, look at the leading causes of death for those around you and take the preventative steps suggested. Beat the odds for your age and see what you have to look forward to.

Leading Causes of Death:

Ages 19-39

Motor vehicle crashes

In these early years men's traditional health issues are just beginning, so deaths are more directly attributed to lifestyle choices. Pushing the envelope to test your strength and endurance puts you at a high risk to do eternal damage to your body. Competing against one another or against some unspoken ideal whether real or imagined may be glamorous, it may also kill you. That same competition when internalized as failure may lead to depression and suidide. When it's externalized, it becomes rage and homicide. Genetic and social forces seem to weigh heavily against young men growning old. Why not beat the odds?


Wear your seat belts and condoms. Learn to stretch before exercising. Find someone you can talk with about your frustrations and disappointments, and, count to ten before following through on your impulse to punch your opponent's light out. Anger control and impulse resolution are marks of healthy, powerful men. Stuffing should be reserved for turkeys. If you don't learn these lessons you may not be here for the next round.

Leading Causes of Death:

Ages 40-64

Heart disease
lung cancer
colon cancer

Cumulative diseases, resulting from years of living as though today were your last day to live (someday it will be true) or from suppressing the feelings you felt during your first forty years. Years of smoking, drinking, eating high cholesterol foods and saying "I'll take the time to slow down later" gather their first fruit there.


Live healthfully. Eat less french fries, red meat and cream enriched coffee (sometimes camouflaged as espresso). Eat more vegetables, fruit, broiled or baked fish and chicken and smaller portions of everything. Exercise at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours each week. Simple exercise is the greatest single item to reduce health risks for this age group. Even low intensity exercise like walking for 1/2 hour three to four times a week will significantly impact your health. Balance instead of only professional development. Take a class instead of sitting down in front of the television. Spend as much time in the garden, doing yoga, or journaling as you do playing racquetball or golf. Equal time exercising the mind and spirit will give more than twice the benefit.

Leading Causes of Death:

Ages 65 and over

Same as for ages 40-64 with the addition of anxiety and depressive illness and suicide

The cumulative effects of poor life choices around eating and exercise continues to catch up with you in this age group. The impact of a man's loss of purpose when he retires becomes significant. This loss of meaning is cumulative and combined with the impact of kids not needing you anymore, the wife developing a life her own or dying, and friends not being as mobile as they once were. All of these give rise to a significant increase in depression.


Live actively. Participate in your life to the fullest extent possible. Get out of the house, spend time with younger people, volunteer as a surrogate grandparent, or, be the father you could never be to some middle aged man who really needs an elder to talk with. Take a class just to challenge your mind. Go for a walk. Smile. Write down stories from your life. Laugh. Remember, as long as you're breathing you're alive. Live.


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