International Men’s Day celebrates the positive value men bring to the world, their families, and communities, and is an appreciation of how they enrich the lives of those around them.
It is also a day of reflection and a great platform to raise awareness of the most common issues affecting men and their physical and mental wellbeing.
Here at the Wellness Improvement Service (WISE), we know that improving your lifestyle can improve your health in many ways. If you decide to eat healthier or exercise more because you’re hoping to reduce your risk of heart disease, then it’s highly likely that you’re also reducing your risk of diabetes, types of cancer, including prostate cancer, arthritis, mental health issues and more besides.
We know that men are at higher risk of heart disease than women, and the good news is that there is a lot you can do to reduce your chances of running into a problem. The things you can do are really simple, and they are the kind of things we talk about all the time at WISE.
One of the best things you can do is eat a healthy diet. This doesn’t have to be complicated. You can make a big difference to your risk of long-term health problems just by following a few basic principles like minimising the amount of junk food you eat, making sure you get at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, drinking plenty of water, trying to avoid added salt and sugar where possible and keeping portions sensible so that you’re not eating too much overall.
Not only does this help with risk of heart disease but it is also likely to be good for your mental health. We know that eating junk food regularly can increase the chances of mental health problems, while healthy food tends to help. There’s no need to worry about specific nutrients or be concerned about minute details – unless you have seen a dietitian who tells you that in your case you should – it’s your general eating pattern that matters.
Regular physical activity is another big win when it comes to good physical and mental health. If you want to be an Olympian or triathlete, then there’s a lot to know about exercise. But if you just want to keep your heart ticking over, reduce your risk of cancers, depression, diabetes, and arthritis, then it’s just about finding something that you enjoy doing that can keep your heart rate up for 30 minutes, 5 times a week.
You should try a few different things, so that firstly you don’t get bored and secondly you get multiple benefits. For example - walking is great for burning fat, cardio exercise like running or aerobics is good for your heart and brain, and strength-based exercises are good for muscular fitness and keeping you in good condition overall. Make sure you talk to your health care provider or a qualified fitness professional if you have any concerns about any health problems you may need to take into consideration.
What else? Well, it’s the obvious things – avoiding smoking, keeping alcohol intake to a minimum, getting enough sleep, and doing your best to keep stress to a minimum. Sleep is when we do a lot of our physical repair work and it’s one of the most important things we can do. Who doesn’t love the idea that in this high-speed, 24-hour society that taking time out to get more sleep is highly recommended?!
Regarding stress, almost all of us have it. What matters is what we do with it. Finding healthy ways to off-load our stress can really help. Try spending time with friends and family, doing fun things in your spare time, getting out for walks, or trying mindfulness and meditation (if that’s your kind of thing).
Here at WISE, we have a lot of things that can help. If it’s heart disease you’re worried about then we have Momenta, our programme that teaches you all about heart health. For other physical and mental health concerns including high blood pressure, long term pain, irritable bowel syndrome, long term lung problems, anxiety or depression, we have our amazing WISE service that will support you with health coaches and doctors, helping you to make the lifestyle changes that you’re able to in order to maximise your chances of enjoying better health in the long term.
We would love to hear from you, and if you’re keen to know more, then you can ask your GP or consultant to refer you, or you can simply refer yourself. We have made it as easy as we possibly can for you (or your busy doctor who doesn’t want to spend ages filling in a form) to do this, you just need to answer a few basic questions here:
We look forward to seeing you very soon!
Author: Sue Kenneally