International Men’s Health Week is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of physical and psychological well-being among men. It serves as a reminder for men to prioritise their health and adopt healthy habits that empower them to take charge of their well-being.


With health, it’s clear that men and women face unique challenges. Statistics highlight these differences:


  • Men have a shorter life expectancy compared to women, with an average difference of 4 years (81 years for men versus 85 years for women).
  • Certain health issues, such as skin cancer, liver disease, and other cancers like lung, blood, and lymph, are more prevalent among males.
  • Cardiovascular disease stands as the primary factor contributing to the reduction in male lifespan.
  • Shockingly, the rate of suicide among men in Australia is approximately four times higher than that of women. An average of 5 men take their lives each day, making it the leading cause of death for males aged 15-45.


While some may attribute these health disparities to genetic and biological variances between the sexes, it’s crucial to recognise the significant role of modifiable factors in shaping health outcomes.

Lifestyle choices play a pivotal role in determining overall health. Research suggests that a staggering 70% of our health status is within our control through lifestyle modifications such as adequate sleep, following a healthy diet, regular exercise and stress reduction.

This underscores the importance of adopting healthy behaviours, not just for disease prevention, but for improving quality of life, physical capacity, and independence as we age. Despite genetics or family health history, we can take charge of our own health.


Improving health via exercise

Physical activity emerges as a cornerstone in pursuit of optimal health. Engaging in regular exercise greatly reduces the risk of many chronic diseases and all-cause mortality, independent of other risk factors. Even small amounts of physical activity yield substantial benefits. For instance, recent studies suggest that mortality risk falls with just small increases in physical activity, for example, 10 minutes of moderate activity per day or 50 minutes per week. However, there is a clear dose–response relationship where mortality risk continues to decrease incrementally. Meeting the minimum activity recommendations roughly halves the risk of all-cause mortality.

The key lies in setting realistic goals and gradually boosting activity levels. Whether it’s a brisk walk, gym session, or outdoor games with friends or family, finding activities that are enjoyable and sustainable is paramount.

Incorporating resistance training into one’s fitness regimen is especially beneficial. It promotes not just muscle strength and joint health, but also plays a crucial role in cardiovascular risk reduction. The term “resistance training” may conjure up images of heavy weights and technical exercises. However, bodyweight exercises or resistance bands can also provide significant benefits.

Early exposure to physical activity during childhood and adolescence sets the stage for lifelong health habits. Resistance training, previously regarded with scepticism for younger individuals, is now recognised as beneficial for muscle, joint, and bone health when performed under appropriate supervision.


Other factors

Beyond physical activity, factors such as sleep and diet exert profound effects on both physical and mental health as well.


Sleep – Adequate sleep duration and quality are associated with improved overall health, reduced stress and enhanced recovery from injuries. To ensure you get a good night’s sleep limit screen time in the hours before bed, wake and sleep at consistent times each day, and restrict or avoid caffeine in the later hours of the day.


Diet – Similarly, adopting a healthy diet contributes to better health outcomes and reduces the risk of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, neurological disease and certain cancers. While the optimal diet pattern may vary between individuals, following a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole foods while minimising processed foods and beverages contributes to better health outcomes. Additional guidance from a nutritionist or GP may help if you’re not sure where to start.


Mental health – Furthermore, prioritising mental health is paramount. Along with the above advice, finding activities you enjoy, spending time with loved ones and reducing stress are all important for psychological well-being. Seeking support from healthcare professionals, such as GPs or psychologists, can also prove helpful.

Ultimately, recognising that we can shape our health outcomes is empowering. By making small, positive changes and seeking guidance from healthcare providers when needed, we can embark on a journey toward better health and well-being.


About the author

CSSM Osteopath Eliot Hird enjoys treating neck and shoulder issues as well as sporting injuries and the rehabilitation of those injuries, helping people get back to their sport or hobbies.

“I like treating issues with the neck because I often see a great response to treatment,” he says.

“Shoulders are interesting because they are a complex joint with many common presenting complaints.  I like the complex problem-solving aspect of these issues.”

Eliot believes everyone should be able to participate in the sport or activity that they enjoy and finds being able to help a patient get back to the activities that they enjoy through injury management or education is one of the more rewarding aspects of being a health professional.

Away from the clinic, Eliot practices what he preaches, training in the gym doing a mix of strength training, CrossFit and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.




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