0 Items Currency:
Select Page

Men’s Health Week: The health habits every man needs to try

June 12, 2023
Men’s Health Week: The health habits every man needs to try
June 12, 2023

Men need to do better at looking after themselves. Women are (generally speaking) pretty good at checking for lumps, talking about feelings and watching what they eat and drink. It could explain why they live longer, with the average female living until 82.6 and the average male lagging behind at 78.6. 


Statistics also show that men are more likely to take their own lives, which is why Men’s Health Week this week is so important, says ZoomDoc’s Chief Medical Officer and GP, Dr Kenny Livingstone.


‘Anything that raises awareness of men looking after themselves better, talking to people about what’s worrying them or finally making that doctor’s appointment that could get them diagnosed, treated or even just give them peace of mind is invaluable,’ he says.


From small changes to remembering to breathe, here are some of the things to have on your radar moving forwards.


Reduce your alcohol intake


It’s recommended to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across 3 days or more.


It can be easy to lose track of how much alcohol you actually drink each week. Even the NHS says that ‘with so many different drinks and glass sizes, from shots to pints – not to mention bottles – it’s easy to get confused about how many units are in your drink.’ 


But drinking too many units, particularly if it’s on a regular basis, will soon take its toll on your health, says Dr Kenny.


‘Regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week risks damaging your health, with links to heart disease, liver disease and a range of cancers – it can even take its toll on your mental health and affect fertility,’ he says.


Even the evidence linked to moderate drinking for a protective effect isn’t as strong as once thought.


‘That doesn’t mean don’t drink at all (unless your doctor has advised this), but cutting down will certainly benefit your sleep, mood and overall health,’ says Dr Kenny.


NHS advice to minimise the health risks from alcohol is to:

  • Not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
  • Spread your units over 3 or more days if you are drinking as much as 14 units a week.
  • Try having several drink-free days each week.


Get help with your alcohol units here.


Watch your waistline


Waist circumference is a good measure of fat around your middle. For men, a waist circumference below 94cm (37in) is ‘low risk’


A healthy weight depends on your height, but if you’re carrying noticeable fat around your middle, don’t just ignore it.


Middle-age spread can cause all sorts of health problems, increasing your risk of prostate cancer, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes  and heart disease.


It can be notoriously stubborn to shift that abdominal tyre but ‘the health benefits will be worth it’, says Dr Kenny.


Generally, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,500 for men. Although it’s 500 calories more than women are recommended, that difference isn’t huge. 500 calories is the equivalent of 3 slices of buttered toast or 1.5 cream cheese bagels, so bear that in mind if you’re eating a lot more than your other half.


For help with calorie counting or for healthy eating advice, you can find free information and support via the NHS here.


Be prostate aware


Prostate cancer is cancer that starts in the prostate gland, and is about the size of a walnut.


Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers, affecting 1 in 8 men in their lifetime, according to Prostate Cancer UK. However, it’s very treatable if caught early. Research suggests treatment at stages one and two has a near 100% survival rate compared to around 50% at stage four. 

Although last year saw a rise in the number of men receiving treatment for prostate cancer (source: NHS), health experts saw this as a good thing, considering it a direct result of a new campaign urging men to talk about cancer. 


‘There’s no doubt talking about cancer saves lives and just making sure you know your health history and what symptoms to look out for are key,’ says Dr Kenny.


The nature of prostate cancer and the way it grows means you’re pretty unlikely to notice any early warning signs or symptoms.


However, the NHS says it’s always worth getting these symptoms checked out by a doctor:

  • an increased need to pee
  • straining while you pee
  • a feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied.


Knowing your risk factor is also an important part of prostate cancer awareness and diagnosis. 


According to Prostate Cancer UK, the three main risks to be aware of are:

  • getting older – it mainly affects men aged 50 or over
  • having a family history of prostate cancer
  • being black.

Read more about prostate cancer.


Talk to someone


Talking therapies can treat conditions like: depression; generalised anxiety; social anxiety; panic attacks


Men are less likely to talk about how they’re feeling, which can impact their mental health. You only have to look at recent suicide statistics to see that men struggle in silence. Latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) lists suicide as the biggest cause of death in men under the age of 50 and says around three quarters of deaths from suicides each year are men. 


If you’re struggling, you can always talk to your GP in confidence or contact these fantastic resources:

  • NHS urgent mental health helpline – find your local helpline here.
  • Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: jo@samaritans.org for a reply within 24 hours
  • Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19.
  • If you’re under 19, you can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline. The number will not appear on your phone bill.


Don’t forget to breathe


These breathing and relaxation exercises are designed to help you relax, relieve stress and feel better on a daily basis.


Finding ways to relax can be hugely beneficial, especially if they’re easy to do. If you’ve not tried one yet, breathing exercises can be really useful. 


This NHS-backed technique, the 4-5-8 method, is one of many worth trying. Here’s how to do it:

  • The numbers in the name – 4-5-8 – refer to the number of seconds when breathing in, holding your breath, and breathing out.
  • Start by sitting up straight in a comfortable position or lying down.
  • Slowly breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds. If you can’t breathe in through your nose, use your mouth.
  • Hold your breath for 5 seconds.
  • Breathe out slowly for 8 seconds.
  • Repeat this cycle 10 times, or as many times as you want. While you do it try to concentrate on your breathing. You can alter the seconds to suit you.


Find more breathing exercises here.


Remember, you ‘can do’ it


Take part in the CAN DO Challenge by choosing a different way to wellbeing each day of the week.


Small tweaks can make a huge difference when it comes to our health and wellbeing, which is why the NHS is backing the ‘Can Do’ Challenge again for Men’s Health Week. This involves following the 5 ways to wellbeing – 5 things we can all do that are scientifically proven to help us feel better. 


‘Since lockdowns and with social media taking up so much of our attention, it can be easy to miss out on the benefits of connecting with people, getting out of the house and even just being present at an event or around your kids. These bad habits creep into daily life and can start to affect us physically and mentally, without us even realising. They can also be hard to break, which is why this simple 5-step plan is really helpful,’ says Dr Kenny.


Here’s how you ‘can do’ it:


Choose a different way to wellbeing each day of the week.


The 5 ways are:

  • Connect – connect with other people (eg. call an old friend you haven’t since before lockdown) 
  • (Be) Active – move your body (eg. go for a run/walk/swim/dance/etc) 
  • Notice – take notice of the environment around you (eg. turn off your phone for an hour)
  • Discover – learn something new (eg. read a book you haven’t read before) 
  • Offer (or give) – do something for someone else (eg. volunteer for a local community group).


For any health concerns or support with your wellbeing, talk to a ZoomDoc GP from the comfort of your own home. We can help with diagnosing, prescriptions and referring you to see a specialist. Download the app now to talk to us today.

Want to know more?

Our team of Doctors are available via the ZoomDoc App for any medical questions or queries.