June 15th 2020 marks the beginning of International Men’s Health Week. The Men’s Health Forum in Ireland have put forward a theme for the week, Restoring the Balance. David Bergin, a Health Promotion Officer with Spectrum.Life and laya healthcare gives some practical advice below.
What we eat
The 2017 Healthy Ireland Survey tells us approximately 70% of males in Ireland are overweight or obese. While human nutrition is a very complex topic, we can take a simple approach to healthy eating.
- Eat 7 fruit and vegetables every day, with more veg than fruit.
- Get your dose of fibre from foods like wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit and veg and beans.
- Avoid saturated fats, refined sugars and limit that salt intake.
- For each meal, remember the 50/25/25 ratio on your plate when it comes to fruit & veg/carbs/proteins.
Did you know that heart disease is Ireland’s leading cause of death, with much of this being preventable? So much of the way we live our life puts stress on our most important muscle – physical inactivity, smoking, drinking too much and stress to name but a few. Taking a look at our lifestyle, a real critique of how we live, might just be needed.
While you’re at it, go get your blood pressure checked.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Imagine a car lying idle – without use, it will begin to seize up and then one day it doesn’t start. We’re a little similar. According to the World Health Organization, current physical activity guidelines for healthy adults is 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intense activity per week. The gym is a great place to get active but if that’s not your thing, that’s okay. Build brisk walking or cycling into your commute, go for a brisk walk at lunch and get active at home with some household chores that give you a little sweat.
According to the Irish Cancer Society, 1 in 3 men up to the age of 75 will develop a form of cancer in their lifetime. 4 in 10 cancers can be prevented through positive lifestyle changes such as being active, not smoking, avoiding risky drinking and taking care in the sun. Knowing your body and spotting any changes early can also greatly improve outcomes if a cancer ever does develop.
We all experience life’s stressors and without healthy coping mechanisms, this can lead to us experience mental wellbeing difficulties or physical ill-health. If we don’t treat our mental wellbeing with respect these difficulties can lead to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. There are steps you can take to care for your mental health:
- Being active is great for mood and is a positive way to cope with stress or anxiety.
- Drink less. Alcohol is an unhealthy coping mechanism and will only lead to worsening the situation.
- 7 to 8 hours sleep each night will help with how we deal with stressful situations.
- Get help. Contact the Laya Healthcare 24/7 Mental Wellbeing Support Programme.
Social connections and family
Social support offers us practical and emotional resources to achieve positive health. We can feel loved, valued and a good sense of self-esteem with a positive social support around us. If our connections are negative, we may lose a feeling of self-worth and increase the chance of mental ill-health. A social support that is caring will help us through stressful situations and fosters a positive culture at home and/or work. We all need help now and again.
Restoring the balance
Much of my time as a health promotion officer focuses on these very broad, but achievable, lifestyle behaviours. If some of the comments above struck a chord with you, there’s no better time to make a change than now. Start small and take it one step at a time. Making small changes to your lifestyle will ensure the change is achievable and sustainable. Seek help, be this your social network or professional. Take the time for your health. Your health matters.
I hope the above tips and advice are of some help. For more information on International Men’s Health Week click here.
Until the end of August 2020, laya healthcare are extending cover and introducing new benefits to look after our members, at no additional cost, during Covid-19. These benefits include unrestricted access to video consultations with GPs, Physios, health & wellbeing experts and Healthcoaches, full cover for treatment in laya health & wellbeing clinics, and much more. .