Men’s Health- why we need to focus on men’s health
Building healthy environments for men and boys
Talking about men’s health is important. In Australia, the life expectancy for men is 5 years below women and often for reasons that are preventable.
Men are more likely to die from intentional self-harm, skin cancer and liver disease. They’re also less likely to ask for help when they need it.
June was Men’s Health month, and the theme was Building Healthy Environments for men and boys. The focus was on creating physically, mentally and emotionally healthy environments in the home, workplace and social settings.
Here we look at the important aspects of men’s health and how we can all improve our health and wellness.
Why men’s health matters
When we think about men’s health, there’s a whole range of things to consider. Unfortunately, men have 53% of the disease burden in Australia. They’re also more likely to die early because of disease and injury, with the leading cause for death being coronary heart disease.
The most commonly diagnosed cancer for men in Australia is prostate cancer. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, but when diagnosed early, there are more treatment options.
Men’s health is not just about your body – it’s also about the health of your mind. Men take their own lives at four times the rate of women. On average, five men a day commit suicide in Australia.
How can we improve men’s health?
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 7 in 10 men are overweight or obese, 29 in 30 Aussie men don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables and only half of all men do enough exercise. Men are also more likely to smoke daily and drink more.
Much of men’s disease burden and premature death are preventable. Here are some suggestions on how to improve men’s health.
1. Eat healthier
It’s so important that we try to include some sort of fruit and vegetables at every meal. Have a think about ways you can boost your intake – could you add some garlic and mushrooms to your eggs for breakfast or throw in some slices of tomato on your ham and cheese sandwich?
If you’re struggling to know what to cook, you could check out websites like No money no time which was created by nutritionists at the University of Newcastle. It provides cheap, healthy and easy meal ideas.
It’s also important to cut down on sugary drinks. Not only do they contribute to weight gain and obesity, but they can also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
2. Get more exercise
We all know the benefits of exercise – it can reduce the risk of diseases, can help you recover better from hospitalisation and can improve your state of mind.
If you’re not sure how to get started with exercise, start small. You could start with just five minutes a day, then slowly build it up.
Some things you could try include:
- mowing the lawn
- a brisk walk with a friend
- a round of golf without a cart
- climbing the stairs instead of taking the lift
Read this article for some more tips for getting started with exercise.
3. Quit smoking and cut down on drinking
If you’re struggling to quit, there is plenty of help available. You can call the Quitline and make a plan to quit, with text messages or emails to support you on your way. You can also talk to your GP or pharmacist about strategies such as lozenges, patches or medications which might help you on your quitting journey.
Drinking alcohol is never completely safe, but guidelines have been developing to reduce your risk of alcohol-related diseases or injuries. The current guidelines recommend healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.
4. Become more social
When was the last time you saw your mates? Do you have people you can talk to if things are tough? If you are feeling lonely, it’s important to recognise that and speak out. Give a friend a call and arrange a catch up. You could make catch ups a regular thing so you always have some social time in the diary to look forward to.
Five Good Friends can also help. Whether it’s transporting you to social functions and community events or providing companionship and connection, we are always here to listen and chat.
5. Seek help
If something doesn’t feel right, please ask for help. Whether it’s a health concern or you’re just feeling off, don’t delay seeking help. Your health is important, and it’s always better to seek help early rather than assuming it’s nothing and potentially leaving it until it’s too late.
If you have a trusted GP, they’re always a good first port of call. They can reassure you and help you find the support you need. You can also talk to us at Five Good Friends and we can reach out to the support or health service you need.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Five Good Friends is building healthy environments for men in disability and home care, get in touch with us.