Physical and mental health have strong behavioural components – this means what you do every day produces most major health markers. Evidence shows that men suffer from an extraordinarily high levels of chronic illness as a result of lifestyle choices: including physical inactivity .
Men make poorer health choices over their lifespan than women. Compared with women, men engage in more risky behaviours (gambling, stunts, seatbelts), have higher tendencies for interpersonal violence, higher rates of smoking, higher rates of substance dependency disorders. Men also have worse dietary habits (less vegetables), are less likely to have routine medical screening, have smaller and less meaningful social circles, and far less likely to be physically active in meaningful ways than their female counterparts .
Almost all of the above conditions are influenced by regular physical activity and social connectedness. Social inclusion, sense of belonging, health-routines and health-focused time are all exercise-specific positive contributors to mental health. Meanwhile physical activity, strength training, cardiorespiratory fitness and sunlight are strong drivers of biological/physical health.
The evidence is firm – the physical and mental health of our men is poor, and socialised exercise is an accessible and potent medicine. If we want to improve the health of the men we care about, look no further than inviting them on walk in the park, a weights session in the gym or a trip to coast for a swim. If you are concerned for the health of a friend or family member, ask your doctor how exercise and physical activity can help them, or call The Fit Lab and book an appointment with our exercise physiologists.