It’s that time of year again. When men all over the world begin to sport fluffy facial hair on their upper lips. Movember sees the nation’s men band together to raise funds and awareness of men’s health. It’s a big topic and sadly one that isn’t discussed enough in circles of blokes.
The statistics about men and health are pretty worrying. Which is all the more reason why Movember is really important.
Men’s health in Australia: A snapshot
- Men have a higher mortality rate from most leading causes of death.
- 70% of Australian men are overweight or obese.
- Men visit the doctor less frequently and have shorter visits, compared to women.
- One in seven Australian men experiences depression or anxiety (or both) in any given year.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death for men. They are four times more likely to take their own lives compared to women.
- Six out of every eight suicides in Australia are men.
- The number of men who die as a result of suicide in Australia is almost double the national road toll.
Despite this bleak picture, there are ways that men can proactively take control of their mental and physical health. And also for the women in their lives to support them to do this. Research shows that exercise is a powerful way to prevent and manage mental health challenges.
Why exercise is vital for men’s health
Exercise is one of the most effective ways that men can reduce and manage the symptoms of many chronic health problems such as depression, anxiety, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Despite the benefits of exercise for mental and physical health, men in Australia simply aren’t moving enough. Around 51% of Australian men don’t get the recommended amount of physical activity.
- Regular exercise increases men’s cardiovascular fitness, strength, bone density, muscle mass and the mobility of joints and muscles.
- It also improves energy levels and the ability to concentrate on complex tasks.
- It positively impacts blood pressure and helps to regulate glucose levels.
- Exercise releases ‘feel-good’ endorphins in the brain. It acts as a mood booster, can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as improve your quality of sleep.
- Regular exercise can help with improving self-esteem and confidence.
- Regular physical activity when done with other people helps men to develop friendships and to network with others, and communicate more about any challenges they are facing.
Exercise helps with many health conditions
- Back health: Regular exercise can help to keep the back strong, through the regular movement, stability, posture and pelvic control.
- Cardiovascular disease: Lowers the risk of heart disease and CVD by lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, aerobic capacity and endurance.
- Mental health: If men play regular team sports, it helps them to develop social networks and social confidence. The endorphin release of exercise promotes feelings of well-being and reduces the amount of stress hormones released in the body, thereby helping with anxiety.
- Diabetes: Helps to regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin efficiency.
- Erectile dysfunction: One recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that exercise has a protective effect on sexual function for men under the age of 40. Men who have active lifestyles are likely to have better erectile function than men who don’t regularly work out.
- Obesity: Helps to regulate weight, increase cardiovascular fitness and muscle mass.
- Arthritic conditions: Regular exercise promotes musculoskeletal resilience, joint mobility, range of movement, and strengthens connective tissue and muscle around joints.
How much exercise is optimal?
The Department of Health has recommendations for how much exercise men should get every week.
- 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise each week. For example running, walking, cycling, gardening, group sports activities.
- At least two muscle strengthening sessions. For example body weight exercises, circuit training in the park or in the gym or in groups.
This equates to around 5 x 30 minute exercise sessions per week. This exercise prescription might sound overwhelming. However remember that the working day provides a lot of opportunities to get moving more, in Movember and all of the time.
Variations on this will occur depending on an individual’s fitness, age, and the existence of other health conditions. It’s always a good idea to get advice and guidance from a physiotherapist if you have any concerns about the exercise programme you have started, to ensure that you are taking the right preventative measures against sports injuries. Speak with the helpful and professional team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy today on 02 9314 3888 or book an appointment online.
Tips to get moving this Movember
Here are some ways that men can inject more exercise into every day.
- Grab a mate for a cycle or a run together. Exercising when others are relying on you to show up, increases the likelihood that you will stick to it.
- Take the stairs instead of using the lifts. This is essentially a stair-master in your own office building.
- Park the car further from your workplace and walk each day.
- Go and grab a coffee outside of the office with a colleague and then have a ‘walking meeting’ instead of a normal sit-down meeting.
- Get off the bus or train a few stops earlier during the morning or evening commute and walk from there.
- Choose to walk to do errands during lunch hour instead of driving around.
- Offer to do in-office errands in order to get away from your desk during part of the day. You will also get brownie points for being so helpful to team-mates.
One research study by the Black Dog Institute found that just 1 hour of exercise each week is shown to have a positive impact on a person’s mental health. So get moving this Movember!
Maroubra Road Physiotherapy would love to see men prioritising their health and finding the time to move more, not only in Movember but in 2020 and beyond! If you would like our advice on how to improve your fitness and regular exercise habits, get in touch with us today for an appointment via our online booking form or call 02 9314 3888.
Exercise and Sports Science Australia (2018) Why Exercise Matters this Movember
Emory University (2012) Exercise may protect against erectile dysfunction. The Conversation
Exercise and Sports Science Australia (2018) Why exercise is important for men’s health
Exercise and Sports Science Australia (2018) How exercise keeps men alive, longer
The Black Dog Institute & UNSW (2017) One hour of exercise per week can prevent depression