It’s Movember, and we are raising awareness of the importance of men’s health. Globally, men die on average five years earlier than women, for reasons that are largely preventable, and they (we) are generally are more reluctant to access health services than women. Men are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and have risky behaviours that can impact their health. Here are 4 things to consider to look after the men in our lives.
1. Stay connected
Social connections are critical to good physical and mental health. Studies have shown that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. Men generally have smaller and less diverse social networks and have less social support than women. We encourage men to spend time with those who lift you up, bring out the best version of yourself, or you can enjoy a good laugh with. Check-in with those who you haven’t seen for a while and reach out to have a chat over the phone.
2. Have a good chat
Only 48% of men say they can rely on their mates despite 78% say they are often relied upon. What this means is that we are happy to support others but perhaps not often enough to ask for help ourselves. You don’t need to have the answer but just letting them know you are a sounding board with make your mate feel supported and less alone. Men do tend to bottle things up, not show emotions or seek help or support when needed.
3 Add more activity and eat well every day.
Exercise is great for anyone, and given 3 out of 4 Australian men are overweight or obese, it’s important we encourage adequate physical activity every day. Only 1 in 2 men get enough exercise every day, and when it comes to nutrition, only 1 in 30 men eat the recommended intake of fruit and vegetables. More than half of male Aussies drink more than recommended, and this was a pre-Covid statistic. Let’s encourage men in our families and friend circles to get more active and improve their nutrition. Simple tips like participating in a meeting whilst walking, playing team-sports, taking stairs rather than lifts and cycling rather than driving can get many started in the right direction. Eating a plant-based diet can improve physical and mental health, as well as reduce long term health risks such as heart disease or prostate cancer.
4 Get a health check-up
If you have prostate symptoms (delays in your waterworks, dribbling, frequent urination at night or poor urine flow), talk to your doctor about prostate screening. If your testicles don’t feel normal size or texture, get them examined by a GP. If you have any bleeding in your stools or ongoing weight loss or reach 50 years of age, get bowel cancer screening. Make sure you get assessments for heart health, skin checks, dental check-ups, diabetes, sexual health, hair loss, hearing and eyesight checks regularly (and early if you have any risk factors such as family history).