From a young age, boys are taught to “man up” and encouraged to disengage from their feelings. In general, men are expected to suppress concerns in line with male norms, while females are encouraged to share their emotions with others.
Being vulnerable isn’t generally acceptable for men, and this can lead to avoiding getting treatment for both mental and physical health concerns.
Why Specifically “Men’s” Health?
Gender is a very important health aspect to consider as societal and physiological differences can impact health. There’s a significant gap between the life expectancy of men and women.
Women are outliving men the world over by about 6 years on average. In the Russian Federation the life expectancy gender gap is a massive 13 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls this gender specific health divide:
“…health behavior paradigms related to masculinity.”
Another way to measure health in men is by analyzing their “healthy life years” (HLY).
HLY describes the amount of time people spend living life fully without the burden of disease. These figures vary depending on what country you live in, with the highest amount of HLY reported in Sweden and Malta. The largest discrepancy is in Lithuania where women have a decade more HLY than men.
Coupled with the fact that men are three to five times more likely to die by suicide than women, men are more likely to turn to anger and violence rather than seeking out help for their health.
Males account for 79% of all U.S. suicides. Furthermore, men in minority groups are at greater risk for chronic health conditions do to the added stress.
To celebrate Men’s Health Month, we’ve put together a list of top tips to help men improve their health. Pass this on to the men in your life – fathers, sons, brothers, uncles and friends all need support.
Top 7 Men’s Health Tips
1. Get your Zzzz’s
It may seem trivial at first, but the truth is, proper rest and relaxation heals the body. Getting at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night is a free and easy way to improve your overall health.
Sleep will also improve your outlook on life. Proper rest stimulates growth hormones and promotes protein synthesis that helps muscles grow. On the flip side, lack of sleep can result in muscle wastage.
One study on sleep showed that there was a 55% reduction in fat loss (i.e. Losing fat is 55% more difficult) and 60% increase in muscle loss when the participants slept just 3 hours less than usual.
The health benefits of getting adequate sleep include:
- Boost in testosterone levels
- Optimized muscle growth
- Increased fat burning
- Improved mood
2. Reduce Stress
Be aware of factors that cause stress in your life and reduce the amount of time spent in these environments. Stress can be exacerbated with toxins such as junk food, cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.
Toxins put a huge burden on the liver and this literally sucks the life energy out of you.
Here are some simple, 100% FREE ways to reduce stress:
- Go for a walk in nature (a city park will do)
- Diaphragmatic breathing
3. Reduce Alcohol Intake
Smoking, diet and alcohol are key factors that negatively impact the health of men. Therefore, reducing alcohol intake or quitting entirely will greatly enhance overall health.
Men are two times more likely to binge drink than women. Surprisingly 90% of the people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.
Alcohol is often used to self-medicate and is a socially accepted anesthetic. There are a great number of reasons to curb alcohol intake, especially since drinking alcohol increases the risk for cancer, sexual misconduct, violence, impotence and infertility.
4. Stick to a Regular Exercise Schedule
It’s no secret that exercise is a great way to increase overall health and wellness.
Create a regular exercise schedule, preferably one that can become a habit. To form a habit we must have effective triggers, such as going for a walk during a lunch break or exercising after work.
Here are three ways to help you stick with your exercise plan:
- Go on the same days and times each week
- Exercise with a friend
- Choose a type of exercise that you enjoy
PRO TIP: If you don’t feel like going to the gym or working out – put on your gym gear and go anyway. You don’t need to work out. Simply creating the habit of getting ready and going to the gym will start to form the foundations of a healthy habit.
5. Do Cardio for Mental Health
Studies show that cardio or aerobic exercise is great for mental health and a powerful tool in the treatment of depression.
The American Heart Association (AHA) advises 150 minutes exercise, or 5 x 30 minute sessions of aerobic exercise per week for men. Going for a run first thing in the morning is a great option.
If you want to go a step further to boost your growth hormones and brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), then try 20 to 30 minutes of fasted cardio daily.
6. Ditch the Junk and Eat Real Food
Processed foods are bad for your overall health. The standard American diet (SAD) or Western diet has been proven to make people sick.
Processed foods are refined, chemically enhanced, and normally contain artificial ingredients. In fact, a lot of brands that claim to be “healthy” are highly processed junk that contain preservatives, colorants, chemical flavorings and texture enhancers that are detrimental to health.
Opt for real food, as close to nature as possible. If you can’t read what is on the label, it’s most likely highly processed.
Prepare healthy lunches and dinners with real whole foods that are unrefined and unprocessed. Eat as many green leafy vegetables as you can to boost your gut health and nutrient intake.
7. Get Some Sun on Your Skin
Getting sun on your skin has many health and mood-lifting benefits. Time out in the sun helps to increase serotonin (the happy hormone) and also melatonin, which is needed for sleep.
Lack of Vitamin D from the sun especially during winter months can lead to depression. Take advantage of the sun during the summer months to strengthen your bones and enhance your overall mental and physical health.
If you are not spending enough time in the sun, then try a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement.
All in All
Focusing on men’s health is important, as it is the norm for men to put their health aside. The global mortality and HLY figures clearly show how far behind men are in relation to taking care of their health. The importance of getting healthy cannot be understated.
It’s time for men to ask for help and do everything that they can to reclaim their health and live life to the fullest.
If you or anyone close to you needs help to reclaim their health, especially if it is related to addiction or mental health issues, please get in touch to learn how Alo House can help.
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