Seven-point Men's Health and Wellbeing MOT
According to the Men’s Health Forum, a staggering 1 in 5 men pass away before they reach 65, meaning they tragically worked for the best part of five decades and didn’t get to enjoy retirement.
Sounds thoroughly depressing, right? Wrong. Turn it on its head and take action to ensure you’re not just another statistic. Stop putting it off – get back in the driving seat and take control of your physical, mental and emotional health with our seven-point health and wellbeing MOT.
Point 1: Alcohol
We all know excessive drinking can lead to weight gain, liver problems and an increased risk of developing various diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis. In addition to this, men are more likely to drink excessively to help alleviate stress and negative feelings, but often this frustration rears its often ugly head once the booze has taken effect, leading to an increased risk of engaging in risky behaviour and arguments with loved ones - a vicious cycle.
Keep a conscious eye on your drinking and, if you feel you have started to rely on the booze a little too much, take steps to cut down before your drinking gets out of control and starts damaging your health and your relationships with others. The NHS recommends a maximum of 14 units per week, spread throughout the week but leaving two or three days completely alcohol-free.
Point 2: Smoking
We know it’s bad, it’s becoming increasingly socially unacceptable, it’s expensive and it makes your clothes smell. Oh, and then there’s the substantial health risks and putting off potential partners who are non-smokers. But quitting is much easier said than done and you’ve tried and failed before so… Wait. Most people don’t quit for good the first, second or even third time they try but try again you must. As a wise, green Jedi once said: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
If you haven’t already, you could consider giving e-cigarettes a go. According to a recent report published by the Royal College of Physicians, e-cigarettes could be beneficial to public health, 2.6 million people in the UK are now vaping to help them cut down or quit using tobacco and vaping plays a valuable role to public health by improving the health of millions of smokers and ex-smokers.
If you need further help, tips, advice and support, then visit the NHS Website for more information on NHS Smokefree. You can also see your GP to enquire about the NHS Stop Smoking Service, where you can find out more about the various medicines and other methods available to help you stop for good.
Point 3: Exercise
Finding regular time for the gym or playing sports with friends as opposed to meeting at the pub could open up an opportunity for you to chat about health worries while doing something healthy. We’re all busy 24/7, juggling work/family/friend commitments and it seems to be getting harder and harder to find the time to fit in regular exercise. How about a friendly 5-a-side game of football in your lunch break with your work mates, walking or cycling to work once or twice each week or going swimming with the kids on a Saturday morning – family time plus exercise, effectively killing two birds with one stone. Get in!
If you are more than a little unfit and want to start slowly and gradually building up your fitness levels, check out our Quick Tips to increase your walking activity and our Five steps towards a more active and energetic you.
Point 4: Diet
Beer belly starting to put strain on your shirt buttons? To check if your Body Mass Index is within the healthy range, visit NHS BMI healthy weight calculator. If you find that you are overweight and need to shed a few pounds, check out our article Six easy steps to success for tips and information on how and why it pays to maintain a healthy weight.
Men are competitive and like to compare achievements, whether it’s cars, DIY projects, work or working out. Maybe organise a competitive healthy eating month with your mates? Who can stick to a healthy diet for the longest, list the health benefits and ask them to rate how much better (or indeed worse) they are feeling throughout the month, perhaps sharing your progress via a private social media group. But beware of fad diets, we’ve all been there and tried that promising super amazing diet we saw online that makes you feel ill and disappears without trace after a month or two. Slow and steady might seem boring but it pays off eventually and is more likely to result in a permanent lifestyle change.
The NHS have created a 12-week printable weight loss guide for anyone who is looking to lose weight the healthy way.
Discover Six Quick Tips to stick to your healthy eating plan at the weekend.
Point 5: Blood Pressure
According to the NHS, 1 in 4 adults have hypertension or high blood pressure and the risk of developing it increases with age. In simple terms, the condition is an increase above normal pressure inside the blood vessels, putting strain on vital arteries and the heart. Five million people are as yet unaware that they have it – are you one of them?
If you’re overweight, a smoker, aged over 65, physically inactive and have a close relative who has high blood pressure, you have an increased risk of developing the condition. Other factors that increase your risk include stress, drinking too much, a high-salt diet and diabetes. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and heart attack so if you fall into any of the above higher-risk categories, get yours checked. In addition, many of these factors are avoidable, so consider making lifestyle changes to lower your risk.
Have you ever noticed a weird machine with a big plastic tube thing at your GP surgery, usually tucked away near the toilets? It could well be a self-check blood pressure device, so have a look next time you’re there – you may be able to check your own – but if you do, make sure you interpret the results correctly. Many pharmacies also offer free blood pressure checks and you can also make an appointment with a nurse at your GP practice if you are concerned. For more information on getting your blood pressure checked, visit NHS Choices.
Point 6: NHS Health Check
If you are 40 or over, the NHS Health Check is an opportunity to get a midlife MOT for free on the NHS. The Health Check involves checking your vascular and circulatory health and includes blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol and other checks. The check is designed to detect any problems early and the health professional will also be able to advise you of any steps you can take to lower your chances of developing any serious health issues later on.
Continue to our final point of the seven-point health and wellbeing MOT: Men and depression.
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