Did you know that males generally have poorer health than females?
Whilst men tend to be far better off than women in terms of income, employment progression and social status and inclusion, lifestyle factors (and some biological ones too) mean that they are at greater risk of illness, accident and die earlier. What’s more, unhealthy societal ideas about how men ‘should’ behave, means that many men don’t actually seek the help and support they need.
But change starts with you. You can start taking better care of your health – or encouraging the men in your life to do so. I spoke with some of our health professionals to ask their top tips for better men’s health. Here’s what they had to say.
Our Doctors and Dentists say: If in doubt, come and see us
Men go to see the doctor or other health services less often and later in their illness. This means that they aren’t getting the best, most immediate health care they need.
There is a traditional and unhealthy mindset in Australia that means some men feel like they should go it alone. But this puts their health at risk. If you have any doubts or concerns, see a doctor and get it checked out.
One way to keep on track is to book an annual health check. Just 30 minutes of your time can keep you running like clockwork! The doctor will check general things like your weight, blood pressure and anything you have concerns about, and depending on your age and medical history, may assess other things like your cholesterol or risk of diabetes.
Our dentists say the same thing too. Did you know that good oral health can help support your general health? Poor oral health increases your risk factors for Heart Disease, Diabetes and Lung Disease. Don’t wait for pain, book a regular dental check-up.
Our Counsellors say: Talk about your emotional health
It’s not just physical health that is put at risk by unhealthy ideas of what it means to be ‘a man’. Suppressing feelings and enduring emotional and psychological pain and trauma, can lead to poor mental health, depression and anxiety. This can have ongoing impacts on individuals and their families. Around three quarters of all deaths caused by intentional self-harm are men. An inability to process emotions can also contribute to aggressive and violent behaviour towards others.
Everyone experiences periods of stress, sadness, conflict and grief, so it can be easy to dismiss these feelings. Look out for some of the warning signs like:
- intense feelings or negative feelings for extended periods of time
- reliance on drugs, alcohol or other substances to cope
- constantly feeling tired or run down
- problems in or strains on your relationships
- your friends or family are telling you they are concerned
The sooner you seek help the easier any issues are to treat. Our Counsellors can help.
Our social support team say: Socialise!
Even if you are not in need of counselling or mental health support, a sense of belonging and social connection is so important to good social and emotional wellbeing. People can become socially isolated for many reasons, including age, health, or cultural barriers. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Come and play pool and have a meal at our Men’s Shed. If you feel like it, you could try your hand at woodworking or help fix up some bikes for sale, or help out in the garden. (These low impact physical activities are good for your health too).
At the Budda Men’s Shed, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men share skills and cultural knowledge with their brothers to improve their physical, spiritual, emotional and mental health.
Or if crafts, speaker events, social outings and day trips are more your thing, then there are a variety of social groups to choose from!
Our dieticians and dentists say: Eat more fruit and vegetables and drink more water
We have all heard this one before, but insufficient nutrients from fruit and veggies has a real impact on health and energy levels. And yes, you guessed it, men generally eat less healthily than women in Australia!
It’s easier than you think if you have a little support. Why not work with us on how to plan healthier meals?
Replacing sugary or sweetened drinks with water is also really important. It is much better for your teeth and oral health, as well as you’re overall health and wellbeing.
Our dentists, doctors and stop smoking support teams say: Stop smoking and reduce drinking
This is good advice for anyone, but men are more likely to smoke and drink risky levels of alcohol than women. This is partly why there is a higher rate of mouth, skin, lung, blood and lymph cancers, liver cirrhosis and other diseases in men.
Every cigarette you don’t smoke is a step in the right direction. And we can help you get there quicker with our free, personalised stop smoking support program.
If you think you drink too much – or others have told you that they are concerned – talk to your doctor about the options available to you.
Our Physiotherapists say: Sit less and find ways to exercise more – especially as you get older
While men are generally more active than women through the lifespan, but this changes when men reach 65-74 years.
Physical activity is known to be effective in helping to treat a wide range of health conditions. People who meet the Australian Government’s guidelines for physical activity, are more likely to report excellent health.
Even if you don’t feel able to exercise more, simply sitting less can have positive health benefits. You can try:
- standing while you talk on the phone
- walking to the front door and back during commercial breaks
- setting a timer to go off every half an hour to remind you to get out of the chair
- using a stand up desk
- taking a car park that is further away
Or come along to one of our exercise groups!
They all say: Model good behaviour for the next generation
If you follow these steps, you are also helping model good behaviour for children that look up to you. This will help build a generation of more healthy kids. Thinking about health and wellbeing from a young age can set children up with good practices. You can support the children in your life by:
- Going for walks together
- Encouraging them to play sports – or just kicking a ball about and playing catch in the park
- Teaching them about healthy eating and avoiding sugary drinks
- Talking to them and reading books with them that demonstrate healthy lifestyles – you will also be helping their language development
- Regularly taking them for medical check-ups with a doctor and dentist
- Teach them how to brush their teeth properly and keep their mouth healthy
If you want more advice or information, come and see us!