Men’s Health – did you know?
We look at men’s health in this post. Did you know that statistically men live 4.4 years less than women?
Did you know that 70% of overall health is controllable through factors such as regular exercise, balanced diet, sufficient sleep and having strong friendships?
Did you know that men who are physically inactive are 60% more likely to suffer from depression than those who are active?
Did you know that 54% of Australian men are insufficiently active?
(According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)
Although exercise has been shown to play a huge role in men’s health, it can be hard to know where to start. Thankfully, there’s a whole field of psychology research dedicated to figuring this out. Phew!
What we do know
So what does this research tell us? Men need to be doing a minimum of 2 ½ to 5 hours of moderately intense exercise (i.e. brisk walk) each week OR 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of vigorous exercise each week (e.g. hiking, running, carrying heavy loads, and sports such as basketball and soccer). In addition to the options above, you also need to include at least 2 muscle strengthening workouts per week (e.g. weights, resistance training or body weight exercises).
Starting somewhere is better than nowhere, so start somewhere – Is it too ambitious to begin running 3 times a week? Start running once a week. Intimidated by the equipment at the gym? Learn how to use one new piece of equipment each week. Just aim to get your body moving. Increase exercise gradually rather than attempting to reach the recommended goals all of a sudden. Smartphone apps can help you gradually increase and track your exercise, like Couch to 5k (C25K), Runkeeper or Zombies Run.
Call a mate or find an exercise buddy – Research suggests you are more likely to make changes if others are changing with you. Get a family member, friend or colleague to join you. Start a culture of friendly badgering about when you will next exercise together. Perhaps join a sports team or your local Park Run (http://www.parkrun.com.au/) so that the exercise is goal-directed and social.
Celebrate your changes – Regularly look back at what you have achieved over time with your exercise buddy and make a big deal about it. Put up a victorious Instagram post. Take photos of yourself periodically and track the changes – they will happen with time and persistence!
Don’t just celebrate your physical changes – exercise makes your brain happier too, reducing symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. Research suggests that even within 5 minutes of moderate exercise a noticeable increase in mood can be felt. Furthermore, the effect of exercise on depression has been found to be comparable to the effect of antidepressants in adults with major depression (Blumenthal et al., 2007)! So take note of your mental improvements and celebrate them, because exercising improves your mind as well as your body.
For more information on Men’s Health Week, watch the Centre for Effective Living Facebook page.
Sophie Antognelli (M Psych (Clinical), B Psych (Hons – First Class) is passionate about working alongside individuals and families to live more full lives, overcoming difficulties they may face. Sophie’s interests are in child and adolescent mental health are emotion regulation issues and anxiety. Sophie is interested in working with her adult clients to regain quality of life through early psychosis intervention, the management of symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as the broader clinical issues of perfectionism, adjustment to life stressors and low self-esteem. She developed these interests across her work in both inpatient and outpatient hospital settings. Alongside her clinical work, Sophie is also involved in a number of research projects exploring new approaches to anxiety disorders – with specific interests in investigating potential new avenues for addressing unhelpful thought patterns in health anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and hoarding disorder.