STILLWATER, Minn. — It's been well documented on Real Men Wear Gowns that guys need to do a better job of taking take care of themselves. One of the best ways is preventative care, which means regular checkups.

"By 35 making sure we know what the cardio vascular risk is for a patient. By age 45 or 50 knowing about risks like colon cancer/prostate cancers," says Dr. Dieter Heinz, who works in family medicine at the Stillwater Medical Group.

He says it starts with a conversation.

"Transparency is a very good thing to keep in mind," Dr. Heinz says. "Many are often pleasantly surprised that their provider has had a similar experience or certainly had experience treating patients with common disease states, common concerns."

During an appointment, Dr. Heinz gathers an overview of the patient's health. 

Do they take day-to-day medications, have they ever been diagnosed with an illness, do they have any active symptoms, what is their family history?

"Many people having fears of diseases that they may not actually be at risk for. So, you might actually walk out of the doctor's office with tremendous reassurance that a.) you're in good health or b.) that you're actually at less risk than you thought you were," Dr. Heinz says.

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Routine checkups, screenings and tests can catch a disease before it starts but health really begins with diet and exercise.

"Try not to leap on to fad diets or anything, but moderate exercise most days of the week, portion control for your caloric intake, obviously avoiding known issues in terms of tobacco, over stimulant use," Dr. Heinz says.

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Medical science has proven preventative care helps find and stop health issues before symptoms arise but it's all useless unless you take the first step and make an appointment.