Men’s Health Week is your reminder to check in with yourself and see if you are doing everything you can to live your healthiest life.
The life expectancy of Australian men is currently 79 years old – that is 5 years less than women. Despite the overwhelming statistics about the benefits of exercise on overall health, 7 in 10 Australian men are overweight or obese, increasing their risk of several life-threatening illnesses including heart disease, depression and some cancers.
Keep in mind that all advice here is general. If you have specific health concerns or conditions, you should consult your doctor before taking any of the actions listed below.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at two of the biggest risk factors concerning men’s health, and what you can do to mitigate your personal risk.
Poor heart health is the leading cause of death in Australia. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) impact almost twice as many men as women, and were responsible for 27% of Australian deaths in 2019.
Some major behavioural risk factors for heart diseases are smoking, poor diet, insufficient physical activity, and alcohol consumption. Being overweight or obese can have a huge impact on overall health and increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
Heart Research Australia report that exercise is “an essential part of healthy living, and vital for effective recovery after any cardiac event. Being inactive is also a risk factor for heart disease.” Research shows more than 50% of Australians are not currently getting the recommended amount of physical activity.
CVDs kill one Australian every 12 minutes, adding up to 54,000 a year. Heart health is currently costing Australia $7.6 billion in healthcare spending per annum.
Eating a well-balanced diet and moving your body are two simple changes that can have a huge impact on your heart health. Try working out with a personal trainer or joining in on a group fitness class to get you on the right track.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
The stigma around men’s mental health has had a huge impact on the data that is available, as men are far less likely to seek professional help for mental health concerns.
There are innumerable things that can impact mental health: major life changes; the loss of a loved one; financial difficulties; stress; divorce or separation; serious illness or injury; and the list goes on. Mental health can also impact many areas of your life such as professionally, socially, and sexually.
The Men’s Health Resource Centre (MHRC) has two significant pieces of advice for men who may be struggling with their mental health:
1. Ask for help when you need it. This may mean talking to a friend or loved one, speaking to your GP about a mental health treatment plan or seeking counselling.
2. Eat well and exercise. According to MHRC, “Proper diet management and physical exercise can be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced.”
Studies show that men who are not getting regular physical exercise are 60% more likely to experience depression than active men. Starting with just one hour a week can be enough to help prevent depression and lift your mood.
Financial strain can be a significant cause of depression, anxiety and poor mental health, but it is important to look at your wellbeing as an investment – both of time and money. Investing in yourself now could save you thousands of dollars. In Australia, counselling and psychotherapy fees are usually between $100-$160 per hour. You can take the first step towards a healthier body and mind for as little as $15.99 a week. Not a member? A two-week trial with full access to group fitness and 24/7 access will cost you absolutely nothing.
1 Exercise Right Australia – https://exerciseright.com.au/why-is-exercise-important-for-mens-health/
2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/heart-stroke-vascular-diseases/hsvd-facts/contents/about
3 Australian Government Department of Health – https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-chronic-conditions/what-were-doing-about-cardiovascular-conditions
4 Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute – https://www.victorchang.edu.au/heartdisease?gclid=CjwKCAjw46CVBhB1EiwAgy6M4hv3PMn7cz9iieVrJipC9UwYJJsgEWRYK-yXIBBKYM0rWmVcgM33_hoCByUQAvD_BwE
5 Men’s Health Research Centre – https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/mhirc/mens_health_information_and_resource_centre
6 Exercise Right Australia – https://exerciseright.com.au/why-is-exercise-important-for-mens-health/