According to the Journal of Health Education research, the two main reasons for men not exercising for their health are;
– They’re not aware of the risks their lifestyle poses
– They don’t consult the doctor regularly to measure health markers and risks
Really? There are men who drink beer every day, eat pies for lunch, and only leave the couch to stand up to shout at the TV league game, who do not understand this is not the ideal way to a long and illness free life?
It’s likely that if you’re reading this publication, you are not one of these, but maybe one of your friends is, and if you’re going to be a mate, you need to help them to understand why a bit of sport away from the couch will prove to be a massive benefit to their life.
Apparently, men like data. Facts and not emotional hearsay, which is why an effort will be made to include scientific research and studies to back up the evidence for exercising for health in this piece, which should cover off reason number one.
Going to a doctor regularly which can show undeniable proof of health markers getting out of control is one of the best ways to inspire change. Taking care of yourself should be regarded as a personal responsibility and a responsibility to one’s family.
The five leading causes of death in 2016-17 are listed as obesity, smoking, hypertension (high blood pressure), elevated blood glucose (diabetes) and physical inactivity.
Granted, some cases of hypertension and diabetes are genetically based and there’s bugger all you can do about that, other than take medication.
However, the other three are arguably entirely avoidable, and so theoretically increase the chances of NOT dying by three-fifths, which is way better odds than lotto. Another fact; physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle are deemed a primary factor in 3.2 million deaths per year worldwide. Read, needlessly.
Stress (maybe from watching a footy game) is a huge contributor to high blood pressure and obesity, and this uncomfortable package can also be responsible for elevated levels of anxiety and increased symptoms of depression.
There has even been a study with rural farmers in Wisconsin that equated anger and stress with elevated cholesterol.
One of the most important things anyone can do, but most especially men who are statistically less likely to do so, is to visit the doctor on an annual basis for a complete physical check-up.
This should include a complete workup of bloods (e.g. cholesterol, blood glucose, liver function). Ask the doctor to send you the results, keep them and track them from year to year so you can measure the effects of lifestyle changes.
If your doctor puts you on medication, take it. Studies have consistently shown that 20 to 30 percent of medication prescriptions are never filled, and that 50 percent of medications for chronic disease are not taken as prescribed (according to a review in Annals of Internal Medicine).
People who do take prescription medications— whether for a simple infection or a life-threatening condition — typically only finish half the prescribed dose.
This lack of adherence, the Annals authors wrote, is estimated to cause approximately 125,000 deaths and at least 10 percent of hospitalisations.
Make no mistake, exercise is medicine. According to that Journal of Health Education study, there is a whole group of men classed as ‘hard to engage’, so in the UK there is an entire footy programme dedicated to using that fanatic and dedicated avenue to create understanding and a sense of urgency around exercise as preventative medicine.
Getting involved in a non-contact sport, whether as a club member or team player can be an extraordinarily effective strategy to commit to regular exercise.
There are some excellent age indiscriminate, non-contact options, all with expert clubs and coaching readily available in Waikato.
No age barrier and minimal injury risk engender long-term adherence which is an essential component of reaping the health benefits. Archery, kayaking, cycling, and rowing are all great examples.
If the social environment of a gym, or the accountability that comes with a personal trainer fits the bill, weight training three times a week for two months showed in a study at the University of Michigan to decrease blood pressure by an 8 point average.
A Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise study showed that decreasing body weight to acceptable health standards (healthy range BMI at the least) decreased blood pressure by 10-29 points, which is a massive margin.
Interesting to note it also showed that two days of housework, decreased blood pressure by 13 points.
So just to recap –
• If you have a condition that is genetic or chronic and requires medication – take it.
• In most other cases, lifestyle choices can work as preventative or restorative components of health so just do it (you know what to do)
• To commit to exercise, join a team or take up a non-contact sport, or get a trainer (the Sport Waikato website has club info)
• Be responsible for your own health, get regular check-ups, and understand what your health markers mean (Ask questions of your doctor)
• Manipulate your health in a positive way through exercise and a high nutrient food intake
• Don’t become a statistic
• Maybe do more housework (I can hear the women cheering from here).