As we get older, we gather up a load of information about our bodies. For example, the cause of a headache a few times in the past is avoided for future headaches. Think of it as a particular brand of beer that always gives you a banging hangover (it’s Stella for me) that you don’t order at the bar. Time gives us the skills and idea we need to plan for the future. Here are some of the men’s health tips collated over what feels like a long period of time. Hope they mean something to you.
You Can’t Undo Damage
When I was young, I used to watch TV upside down, eat too many sweets and go for long periods of time with little or no exercise. The older men in my life told me that you had to keep on top of this and the damage couldn’t be undone. My father, uncles and grandfather all told me that I needed to take better care. I thought that was nonsense. I could just get fit later on if I wanted to. While there is some truth in that, staying fit is a far more effective way of managing your health. The damage I did to my general levels of fitness in my late 20’s and early 30’s is taking some getting used to. I run regularly now, but struggle with the same kind of pace that my peers manage – those of them that have ran regularly all their life.
It’s the same with my teeth, they don’t feel fit for purpose all the time. I’ve not had any toothaches for well over a decade now, but I really wish I’d looked after them better when I was a Coke-swilling, chocolate-eating teen, 20-something and beyond. I talk to my kids about their teeth all the time. They won’t understand until they have their first bout of toothache. That will hopefully be the hook that allows them to take much better care of their teeth. They don’t have bad teeth by any means, but they swill pop and eat sweets. Sound familiar? This is the first of the men’s health tips here – and it applies to all of us no matter the age.
Your Back Doesn’t Follow Convention
If you bang your hand on the work surface in the kitchen then it hurts, doesn’t it? If you get something in your eye then you need to get it out, right? And if you lift something really heavy, then most of the time your back will be absolutely fine. But you can lean over the sink to wash your hands and it goes. You can’t apply any logic to your back. It has a mind of its own, or something like that.
I’ve suffered on and off with my back for years and years. It works perfectly fine for 3 years then suddenly doesn’t want to play. And I know so many other men who have the same issue. And the worst part about it is there doesn’t seem to be anything in the way of a solution.
Weight is an issue, there’s no doubt about that. As far as men’s health tips go, losing weight is the number one. But the back is far more complex than that. And from the research I’ve done, it starts at the front.
Your core is the part of the body that takes the strain when you lift something, bend over or reach out. So, it’s the core that you need to take care of if you want a happy, healthy back. That’s where I’ve started and (touch wood) my back has been in a very good state for a number of years since. In fact, it’s now around 7 years since my last episode, which is remarkable for me.
So, look at core exercises, start gently and build up. It doesn’t take much to build up the core, but it can deteriorate just as quickly so this is something you’ll want to keep up.
Everything In Moderation
In my time as a mortgage and insurance adviser, I was amazed at the number of men who stated that they didn’t drink at all. Of course, life insurance is cheaper if you drank fewer than a certain number of units per week. But I believed that most of them were telling the truth. But it can be the irregularity of drink that causes us a problem.
Drinking every now and again to excess can put a lot of strain on the liver, as well as the rest of the body. Drinking in moderation is quite the opposite. Research has shown that drinking red wine in moderation is actually good for you. And at the same time, you can poison yourself with too much water.
I know from having a drink only a couple of times a year that the hangovers can be pretty horrific. My body isn’t used to the alcohol at all. It affects me in a way that comes with the territory of only being a very occasional drinker.
You want to enjoy life. And a large part if that enjoyment can be had in having a drink, eating junk food or chocolate and lazing around. But too much of it is bad for the health. We need to look after this body if it is going to be there for another fifty years plus. So, moderation is the key.
Mental Health Is Vitally Important
So many of the things we suffer with our body come through the mind. If we don’t get decent sleep, then our body reacts in so many ways. And much of the things that stop us from sleeping properly are psychological. Stress and worry are bad for the whole body, nit just the mind. Your health is far too important to be put under this strain.
Mental health used to be seen as something the very few suffered. And the consequences were huge. But now we understand the brain much better. Pretty much all of us have suffered with one form or another of mental health issues in our life. It’s not a badge of honour, but also isn’t something to hide away from the world. And that’s the men’s health tip in this section –
Talk to your friends and family.
They won’t judge you. The support network you have around you is just that – supportive. People who ask for help get help. That’s something I always tell my kids. But people who don’t show any signs of needing help until it’s too late don’t get any assistance at all. It’s that sad fact that suicide is the main killer of men under 45. It’s scarily evident when you start talking to your mates (really talking, getting under the skin) that we all have these anxieties.
But we were told when we were kids that we needed to be strong, have a stiff upper lip and leave the crying to the women. Gazza open the floodgates (pun intended) back in 1990. But we still didn’t know what it was all about. The man himself has struggled with mental health issues all his life. We just thought he was a big softy.
Mental health isn’t something to hide or be ashamed of. We need to manage our brain to look after ourselves for the rest of our life. Talking to each other is a great place to start.
Men’s Health Tips Are Not Universal
It’s probably the point in the article that we realise there isn’t a one- size-fits-all way of life. We all read about people who have a good old drink regularly and smoke while living beyond the ripe old age of 100. Similarly, we hear about people who look after their body and don’t make it past the not-so-ripe age of 50.
The story of James F Fixx is an interesting case in point. He is the guy who is credited with starting the jogging boom in the United States, which travelled across the world. His book, The Complete Book of Running was a huge bestseller. I remember seeing it on the bookshelf at home when I was a kid and reading it when I was a teen. The guy was someone that millions looked up to for his fitness levels and dedication. He died of a heart attack while out jogging at only 52.
It goes to show that there isn’t one way that suits all. As far as men’s health tips go, the ones in this article are designed to help. But they won’t all apply to every man who reads this. Having said that, none are negative. Looking after your back won’t cause you major issues elsewhere. But you won’t necessarily know if you are someone with the potential to have back issues. But staying in a good place with your back health is the right path. And that’s what we will look at in the next section.
Listen To Your Body
Your body is telling you all manner of things. As a species, we used to be very much in tune with our body, these skills being handed down from generation to generation. Our elders would tell us what those aches and pains meant. It wasn’t simply an ache. It was the body telling us that we needed to pay attention. And guess what? The same applies today. Every little ache and pain id the body reminding us of something.
This might be ‘don’t do that again,’ or ‘this part of the body is suffering.’ But whatever it is, the body is great at letting us know what is wrong. It’s just that we’re not quite so great at listening. And as men approaching the age of fifty, we are even worse at listening to the body than most. We ignore pain. We work through.
If you’re anything like me then you will get the most excruciating pain and still try to carry on. And then you will get a small cut on your hand and it will feel like the world has ended.
There is no easy route to listening to your body. It is a case of taking some time every day to be just at one with your body. Sit for five to ten minutes at least and do nothing else – no music, nobody else around, no TV, no distractions. And just sit and think about what your body is telling you. It might not come easy the first few times, but if you set time aside then you will get better at spotting the signs that you need to work with. You might find that –
- You realise your headache is from dehydration, so you get a drink
- It may be that you’ve overindulged recently, and your bowels are sending you a message
- Those aches and pains you put down to going for a run are still there days later
As you build up a profile, then you will recognise the signs more readily. But if you don’t give yourself the time, then you won’t see what is going on.
I have written extensively on veganism on this site. And I believe in the benefits of at least reducing the meat intake in your diet. I saw a Facebook campaign recently that was set up to promote eating more meat in March, to counteract the financial loss on farmers from Veganuary. Now, I’m not a political animal. I don’t eat meat because I believe in the health benefits and I’m concerned about the environmental impact. But I’m more than willing to accept that other people think differently. My views are here to explain my viewpoint – not to tell anyone else how to live their life. But the farmer thing got me. I don’t believe that counteracting the environmental good of Veganuary with an environmental bad of eating more meat in March is a great place to be as a planet.
But anyway, my vegan experience is one where I feel fitter and in better shape than I have done in years. As far as exercise goes, I find that I am recovering far more quickly on a vegan diet than I ever did when I was eating meat as part of every meal. And I want that for other people too. As we get older, the body slows down. We can’t run as fast or as far as we did in our 20’s. I have found that a plant-based diet has made this slowing down less rapid. And that’s my experience, and one of the men’s health tips I’ve discovered in my 40’s.
The Vagus Nerve
I won’t go into massive detail here, as I have written an extensive blog on the subject, but we should all know as much as possible about the vagus nerve. It’s a remarkable part of the body and regulating it can help us all to stay fitter and healthier. But why are we all so vague about the vagus nerve? This is one of the mens health tips that can really change what you do
The vagus nerve works its way around several of our vital organs and helps us to recover from inflammation – which is a major cause of illness. Inflammation is linked to many of the diseases that are killing men around the age of 50. And we don’t want the next one to be us.
The tip is to stay cool. Now that’s not The Fonz talking. It’s about regulating the body temperature to ensure that we reduce inflammation. As I said, there is a long guide to the vagus nerve elsewhere on the site, but be aware of how it can affect your health.
Television Entertains And Steals
Television can bring us a great deal of joy. Back in my youth, an episode of Only Fools And Horses was the highlight of the week. The Christmas special was the highlight of the year. And it was the topic of conversation at school for weeks after, as well as around the dinner table at home (more on this later.)
But it can rob us of hours of our life that we just can never get back. Sitting in front of the TV brings heartache as well as heart problems. Watching the depression of soap operas, documentaries and the news drags you down. You start to think that the whole world is like this. You start to get depressed about the state the planet is in.
Now, I’m not saying that you should completely ignore the plight of the world. If we all did that then there would be no planet left. But concentrate on your own part. Bringing up your kids, maintaining your family, doing your bit. This takes away from the depression of the news and is great for our mental health.
Use that time to do other things instead. You will get far more joy from that. Good for the mind, good for the body and good for the soul. And this sits high on the list of mens health tips.
Smaller Portion Size
Something as simple as buying a smaller plate can make a huge difference to your health. Don’t think like Alan Partridge and go for the biggest plate possible. This leads to you feeling like you must fill that plate at every meal. Larger plate = larger portions = more calories.
And dieting is a simple task of managing the calories you intake. Take less than you need, and you lose weight. The calculation can be as simple as that if you let it.
We eat far too much. On a once off basis that’s not a major problem. A few times a week and it becomes a bigger issue. Every meal and you’re in trouble. So, something as simple as using a bowl for dinner instead of a plate, or making that plate smaller, can dramatically change your weight. Of course, it helps if you throw in more fruit and veg, but if you have to do one thing then get a smaller plate.
Pass This On
The advice on this page isn’t just a one-off thing. These are items that you can add to your life and make a change. But it doesn’t just have to be your own life that is enhanced. Start with your kids. You want them to have the best start possible in life. You want them to move forward and become amazing people. Their health is the foundation of their excellence. If they spend hours a day trying to manage a health condition, then they will have a harder time fulfilling their potential.
And then your friends. Once you start to make changes and look better, they will want to know what it’s all about. Your friends will ask how you have managed to look better, lose weight, etc. Tell them. Share the knowledge. They say that a rising tide lifts all boats. So, if you share the knowledge, your friend can become fitter and healthier too. Who wants to be the only one in retirement when all our friends are in the grave? Not me, that’s for sure.
Mens Health Tips And You
Thank you for reading. The men’s health tips in this blog are designed as an overview. To help. You cannot substitute these for medical advice. So, if you are suffering from something in particular then go to the doctor. They will be able to connect you to the right medical professionals and you can move forward from there.
Self-treatment for an illness is rarely a good way to go, often dangerous. But getting yourself onto shape before you get ill is a great way to live your life. Making the most of this body we have is something that men approaching the age of fifty need to achieve. If we are to live at least as long as our parent’s generation, then we have another 30 years plus to go. Let’s ensure that we have the body that is able to take us there.