The research is in: on average, men have a lower life expectancy than women, are less likely to go to the doctor for a check-up, and are less likely to look after their health. This Movember, we wanted to get back to basics and get into one of the biggest factors affecting overall health: physical well-being. Like it or not, the little things like posture, exercise, diet, and certain habits have a huge impact. So, without further ado, let’s get into why they’re so important and some improvement strategies.
Why posture is so important
Posture is one of those things that everyone tells you to mind, and you know you SHOULD mind. But long hours typing at the computer, working in the dirt on a landscaping project, or hauling heavy equipment tend to slouch the back and hunch the shoulders.
Bad habits can be hard to break, but it is absolutely essential to do so. According to a study in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, bad posture can adversely affect stress, confidence, emotional well-being, energy levels, and general health.
So, how do you stop slouching?
- Think ergonomically. In the office, make sure you set up your desk right. Your feet should be flat on the floor, your elbows bent at 90 degrees, and your monitor sitting at eye level. This will reduce pressure on the lumbar, prevent you from pulling at your thoracic spine, and remove the need to hunch to look at the screen. In more physical work like construction and landscaping, try to work above waist level as much as possible and remind yourself to keep your shoulders back and spine neutral.
- Exercise. Strong back and core muscles are much, much better at keeping your spine in the upright position than weak ones.
- Brace. As mentioned in the study, wearing an assistive device can improve your bodily awareness and remind you to keep your back and neck in good position. And a good back brace can come in handy here. Our LumboTrain, for example, incorporates compression knit and a gel pad that will communicate with your muscle fibres, retraining them to keep your spine in check. This works through a system of thousands of meshes that deliver pressure to key areas around your lumbar and core.
LumboTrain Back Brace
How diet and nutrition affect physical well-being
It’s easy to fall into bad habits here. Faster, cheaper, and arguably tastier meal options are more attractive than standing in the kitchen for 20 minutes chopping up a salad you probably won’t like. In fact, on average, men eat fewer fruits and vegetables than women and tend to find healthy food options bland, unfilling, expensive, and time-consuming.
Luckily, good nutrition doesn’t have to mean long hours in the kitchen or bland lunches for the rest of your life. All you need to do is eat a good mix of carbs, proteins, fats, fruits, and veggies - which you can find in good foods like sandwiches, sushi, rice, ramen bowls, pasta, and pie (depending on the type you get, of course). You could also look into heart-healthy and prostate-healthy diets to prevent common and dangerous conditions.
The benefits? Higher energy levels, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, better mood, and more. (As a bonus, remember the old saying - an apple a day keeps the doctor away.)
The role of exercise in men’s health
Men exercise more than women, with some estimating an average of ~90 more minutes a week. BUT, around 27% of adults don’t meet the WHO’s recommended 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week.
Without those minutes, you’re at greater risk of heart disease, loss of muscle strength and endurance, weight gain, poor circulation, high blood pressure, and more.
If you’re pressed for time, keep in mind that moderate-intensity activities hang around 3-6 METs, so they include a brisk walk, cycling, mowing the lawn, playing basketball with your mates, and swimming laps. You only need to do 10 minutes of these at a time for it to count as moderate exercise, so most of these you can squeeze into your day by making a couple of slight changes. Say, getting off the bus a couple of stops early or cycling to work instead of driving.
You can also pester your mates into more active social activities like beach volleyball or footy at the park.
If pain or injury is a concern, don’t sweat it. Most clinicians agree that exercise is one of the best ways to relieve pain. It gets the blood pumping to damaged tissues, helping them heal. It also strengthens the muscles, which play a critical role in protecting the other tissues in your body.
Of course, don’t just jump into rugby straight after a ligament sprain. First, check with a clinician to see what types of exercise are safe for you to do. Second, take it easy and monitor how your body responds to different activities. And third, if you’re finding it challenging to stay active, it’s a good idea to look into braces.
The GenuTrain Knee Brace, for example, might not look like much. But its medical-grade knit and patella pad have been found to correct knee adduction, stabilise the joint through movement, and minimise pain.
GenuTrain Knee Brace
Get good habits
Last but not least, mix more healthy habits into your day.
- Get up and move around every 30 minutes of sitting to get your circulation going again and reduce pressure on your lumbar.
- If you smoke (and you’ve probably heard this from everyone everywhere at least 10 times a day), quit.
- Make meal prepping and healthy eating a regular thing.
- Try to be more active in your downtime.
Your bones, muscles, lungs, and other organs will thank you.
To sum up
Men often overlook their health. Social, cultural, and personal beliefs can get in the way of ‘little’ things like eating enough fruit and heading to the doctor for a check-up. But when it comes to men’s health and physical well-being, the little things have a big impact. Fortunately, you likely don’t need to make drastic changes to your life. Going for a jog, picking sushi over a pizza, and keeping an eye on how (and how long) you sit go a long way to a healthier and stronger you.
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.
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