Men’s Health Week, led by the Men’s Health Forum, is dedicated to raising awareness about health issues that affect men disproportionately. The aim is to make men aware of the problems they may develop, and give them the courage to take care of themselves. Various countries and organisations come up with their own focuses and themes for the week. The Men’s Health Forum is using this week to encourage men to Take Action on Covid-19. Please look at their resources for this worthwhile cause.
Here at Healthera, we’d like to focus on some of the men’s health tips and techniques that can be adopted and incorporated into your life to improve both your mental and physical health.
Men’s Health Issues
Studies show that there are some illnesses or difficulties that affect men disproportionately due to both their DNA, and common lifestyle choices. While these won’t apply to all men, it applies to a significant enough percentage of men for it to be something that needs to be considered when thinking about self care.
Common Lifestyle Choices
Some of the most significant choices that affect the lives of men are that they are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol at dangerous levels, and to have unhealthy eating habits. Men are statistically also more likely to avoid going to the doctor until they feel it is absolutely necessary.
Due to an accumulation of the above, one in five men die before the age of 65. The biggest single cause of death in men is cancer, and men are significantly more likely to die prematurely from coronary heart disease.
As daunting as those details are, it’s important to know that in many of these cases, there are preventative measures that can be taken. Diet, exercise and stress management are some of the most significant keys to men’s health.
It goes without saying that there are some external factors that we simply can’t control, but the things we can control can have a dramatic effect on our wellbeing. Because of this, a big push for men over recent years is learning to take care of themselves even when there hasn’t been an illness encouraging them to start doing so first.
There are basic tips that men can follow to lay down a good foundation for their health:
- Have regular checkups with your doctor
- Take breaks
- Watch your weight
- Don’t smoke
- Drink sensibly
- Nurture your relationships
- Attend your screenings – prostate, colorectal, etc.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your health
You can incorporate these things into your life so that they become habits that can benefit both your physical and mental health without you even realising.
Mental Health and Men
“In England, around 1 in 8 men have a common mental health problem. However, men may be reluctant to seek support for their mental health or disclose mental health problems to loved ones.” – Mental Health Foundation
Statistics have shown that 1 in 3 men in England have experienced suicidal thoughts as a result of feeling stressed, and suicide is the largest cause of death in men under the age of 50. Because of this, it’s important to adopt some activities and habits to help reduce and manage stress. Some of these tips are below:
- Exercise regularly
- Spend time with loved ones
- Listen to the music
- Practice mindful breathing
- Maintain a healthy sleep cycle
- Speak up
- Don’t be afraid of how you feel
- Build short term positive emotions
- Care for people around you
67% of men are overweight or obese. This leads to a significant increase in risks for getting diabetes, chronic liver disease, coronary heart disease, and cancer. Exercising is therefore an excellent preventative measure to take for these illnesses and health issues.
Generally speaking, many young men do have a good amount of exercise in their earlier years through an introduction to sports in school. However, it’s common for this to subside as the years go on and other priorities take over. Depending on the time you have and the options available in your day-to-day life, there are both big and small workout/exercise based that you can adopt.
- Walk whenever possible
- Climb stairs rather than taking the lift
- If your job requires you to sit down, take regular breaks to stand up and stretch your legs
Things to remember before you start to exercise:
- Speak to your GP
- Take time to recover
- Eat well
- Stay hydrated
- Don’t overdo it
Men and women share most of their DNA, however, there are some differences in what makes a diet healthiest for each. Some of the foods that are important for men to incorporate into their diet are – especially for those that take on the above exercise tips:
- Shellfish: important for the heart, muscles, and reproductive system
- Fatty fish (with omega-3): two servings a week can lower your chances of dying from heart disease
- Milk and yogurt: helps to keep your gut healthy
- Tomato sauce: it has been suggested that men who eat tomato sauce regularly are less likely to get prostate cancer
- Soy food: one of the best protectors against prostate cancer
- Vitamin C: may lower your odds of developing an enlarged prostate
- Whole grains: can help lower your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
- Bananas: good for muscle and bone health
- Nuts: improve cholesterol levels
- Lean red meat: packed with protein and helps to build muscle
- Cherries: soothe muscles
- Dark chocolate: improve blood flow
These are a few of the meal tips men should follow to support a healthy lifestyle:
- Don’t skip breakfast
- Make sure you meals are balanced
- Don’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week
- Drink more water
What Everyone Else Can Do
If there are men in your life that you love and care for, there are some things that you can do to help and support them in leading healthier lives.
- Let them know that you are there to support them
- Encourage them to speak up about how they feel
- Empathise with what they may be struggling with
- Give them space when they need it
- Avoid harmful terms such as “be a man” when they are being vulnerable
- Reassure them that they have a safe space with you
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