Wednesday 18 September 2019

6 ways for men to stay healthy

Áilín Quinlan has expert tips on how men can live healthier lives as they age

Keep an eye on your belly size, and alcohol intake
Keep an eye on your belly size, and alcohol intake

We all want to be healthy and happy - but as we get older sometimes we don't prioritise it enough and this is especially true of men. They have a tendency to neglect their health far more than women and also find achieving a work/life balance much more difficult. While it may look effortless, in truth, you need to work at it. So here are the essentials ...

1 Watch that belly fat...

Measure your (relaxed) belly with the tape across your belly button, advises Dr Mark Rowe, GP, lifestyle medicine expert and author.

"Your belly needs to be under 40 inches, and ideally under 37 inches.

"Over 40 inches is a red flag for adverse health conditions like diabetes, dementia and an increased risk of bowel and prostate cancer."

Men should have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, recommends Rowe - along with 15 minutes of strength training twice a week.

2 Five-minute meditation...

"If I get a few minutes between work and training, I'll do a five-minute meditation," reveals footballer Paul Flynn, a member of the All -Ireland winning Dublin football panel and CEO of the Gaelic Players Association.

"I find that it helps me close off from one aspect of my day, such as work, and clear my mind as I go into another aspect, such as training."

3 Get eight hours sleep...

"Men can lack routine, and many are 'owls'" observes Dr Harry Barry, GP, author and mental health expert. "Adult males need eight hours sleep and adolescents need nine and a half hours sleep," he warns, adding that sufficient sleep is critically important for physical health and reduces the risk of conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke," he adds.

4 Regulate your alcohol intake...

"There is an epidemic of people who are unwittingly abusing alcohol in Ireland today," warns Dr Rowe.

"Men should not drink more than 17 drinks a week," he warns, adding that it's important to remember that there are five drinks in a bottle of wine, one drink in a unit of spirits and nearly two drinks in a pint of beer.

"As a doctor I see a lot of people who are suffering the negative health impacts of alcohol, and they are unaware of it," he adds.

5 Ask for help when needed...

"Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it," says Paul Flynn, who says he believes that many men are reluctant to seek help.

"Sport teaches you to ask for help - for example, if you need mentoring or coaching.

"It's important to remember that nobody has all the answers either at work, at home or in sport.

"It's extremely important to be able to ask for help - remember, it's true that a problem shared is a problem halved."

In terms of mental health, he stresses it's very important to be able to ask for help if you're struggling.

6 Identify and manage...

Stress is a significant issue for many men who are suffering symptoms such as continuous fatigue, reduced concentration and motivation, sleep difficulties, IBS, or feeling "tired but wired," says Dr Barry, author of Toxic Stress.

"Other symptoms include losing interest and enjoyment of the normal things in life.

"Talk to your GP to eliminate any medical reasons for the symptoms you are experiencing, and seek advice on tweaking any lifestyle issues which may be contributing to your symptoms of stress. Try to identify the main stressors in your life and deal with them.

"Seek the help of appropriate professional or supportive family members," he urges.

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