The lead up to Father’s Day should be about more than socks, briefs and what to barbecue on Sunday. Men’s health should also be on the agenda and it’s no coincidence that Men’s Health Week falls in the week before Father’s Day.
Men’s Health Week in an international day which was developed by the US Congress in 1994 to boost the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.
In the UK and many countries in the world, the health status of males is generally poorer than females. Compared to females, more males die at each life stage, have more accidents, considerably more take their own lives and more males suffer from lifestyle-related health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes than females at the same age. A study by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) found men are also less likely to visit their primary care provider and unwilling to consult a pharmacist or seek treatment when sick.
Did you know?
- Life expectancy in the UK is 79.2 years for males and 82.9 years for females (2017)
- 66% of men are overweight or obese (BMI > 25)
- 67% of men reported they met the government recommendations for physical activity
- Participation in activity amongst men declines with age. (83% of men aged 16-24 met the recommendations for physical activity, compared with 57% aged 65-74.)
- 45% of men report work commitments as a barrier to increasing their physical activity
So, for Men’s Health Week I have chosen to talk about my top six way to improve your physical health. The effects of physical activity should not be underestimated. If exercise were a drug, everyone would be lining up for days! It’s free, has immediate effects and let’s face it, noone ever regretted moving their body!
Exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%! Physical activity feels good. It boosts feel-good chemicals in your body that can boost self-esteem, mood, energy, sleep quality and reduce your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
1. See a Physiotherapist
Is an injury standing in the way of your peak physical health? Are you worried about joining a fitness class because you injured yourself last time you tried? See a physiotherapist to prevent and manage any injuries before pursuing your active lifestyle. Many people believe physiotherapists are only there to seek advice and treatment whilst injured. What they don’t know is that we are also trained to know how our bodies are meant to move during different activities and sports. We can examine your movement, muscle strength and function, joints, and evaluate any weaknesses that need to be addressed. Your physiotherapist will work with you to develop a thorough plan to achieve your goals. In the long term, being proactive may prevent pain, wasted money and time off work.
2. Stay active throughout the day
Walk, run or cycle on your commute to work. Hire a Boris bike. Get a standing desk. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Get out at lunchtime. Utilise your workplace gym. Get off the tube 3 stops earlier and walk. Set your alarm earlier and exercise at the start of the day. The list is endless!
Consider active activities throughout the day – rather than meeting a friend for a coffee, why not chat over a walk or do an exercise class together? Go on a family bike ride or take the kids on a hiking holiday!
Fitness trackers and phone apps are another way to monitor your activity and motivate you to keep moving throughout the day. There are many different apps and devices on the market which measure steps, heart rate, stress, GPS and everything in-between with pinpoint accuracy. A few different brands to research are Fitbit, Garmin, Apple iWatch, Fossil Sport and Strava phone app.
3. Consider a Holistic approach to fitness
Cross training is important, variety is key. Cross training is an exercise regime that includes different modes of training such as aerobic, strength, mobility and coordination training. Consider the man who runs five times per week but can’t seem to shake his Achilles tightness. Incorporating global strength work at the gym could help strengthen these muscles and tendons to prevent injury. Swimming could provide a non-weight bearing aerobic workout with the additional benefit of working different muscle groups. Pilates could help strengthen the powerhouse for which the limbs move on, and lengthen your spine and muscles. By using different muscle groups and training them in a different way you prevent overuse, injury and improve your overall fitness.
Consider yoga, Pilates, running, strength training, HIIT classes, barre, dancing, horse riding, walking or rowing. Find something you enjoy and work at it.
4. Find a fitness buddy
If you are feeling uninspired and lacking the motivation to drag yourself out the front door consider asking a partner, workmate or friend to join you in your fitness journey. Your fitness buddy can provide encouragement, support and keep you accountable when you aren’t feeling up to it. You could bring your friend along to a class, go for a walk at lunchtime, meet up in the park or join a challenge at your local gym.
APPI Wimbledon has recently launched a run club over summer and so far, the feedback has been amazing! The run club provides a supportive, fun and social network and someone to keep you accountable. Over summer we will be running a ‘Summer Challenge’ for our Pilates classes in both our clinics so keep your eyes peeled. Just remember – turning up is the hardest part!
5. Stretch, stretch, stretch
If you have a desk job and sit down all day you may think that stretching is not important as you are not active. However long periods of sitting can cause tightness in your lower back, hip flexors and hamstring muscles. Additionally, using a computer or writing can result in tight forearms and neck muscles resulting in aches and pains throughout. Getting up and movement regularly is important and can make a big difference to work related aches and pains.
A morning routine consisting of stretches and yoga poses is a good place to start, and gentle stretches throughout the day and at lunchtime and a physiotherapist or trainer can issue you a home program to do throughout the day at work.
Rest is just as important as training! Give yourself permission to take a break. Take time every day to do something you enjoy, and get plenty of rest each night. Doctors recommend between 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Another important part of managing your stress is maintaining a positive mental attitude. Meditation is one way to help improve your mood.
Remember no one ever regrets exercising and moving their body!
~ article written by Jess Kostos