According to Bupa’s recent Wellbeing Index, a third of UK men are feeling ‘more worried about their health than ever’. We all know that it’s important to take care of our health and well-being; in fact, 89% of us class it as a priority. But if you need an overhaul, sometimes it can be difficult to know here to start.
As it’s International Men’s Health Week, there’s no better time to start making lasting improvements to your wellbeing. With this in mind, Dr Luke Powles, Clinical Director for Bupa Health Clinics, has shared his top ten tips to help get your health back on track.
Set achievable goals
The first step towards making sustainable changes is to set yourself some goals. There’s a knack to setting a successful goal – keep things simple! Whilst it’s good to have a wider goal, it’s useful to split it down into smaller, more achievable goals. This encourages you to not put too much pressure on yourself and only work on one goal at a time.
Make a plan to start things gradually, then build on your goals as you achieve each step towards your wider goal. This will help you to put things in place to repeat your new behaviour, whether it’s drinking more water, or going to the gym twice a week.
Audit your activity
Lots of men have fallen out of love with exercise over the last two years, with our research showing that 22% rate their physical health as ‘poor’, and 27% of men ‘feel unfit’.
Think about how much you exercise over the course of a week. To stay healthy, all men should be doing at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity exercise every week. This might seem like an intimidating amount of exercise to do if you’re out of the habit, however it actually only equates to an achievable twenty minutes of exercise each day.
You can make simple changes to your routine to get to your weekly exercise quota – for example, by briskly walking to the shops rather than getting public transport or doing an online Pilates class after work to help keep your muscles strong.
Find an activity you enjoy
Exercise in itself is an excellent way to boost your mood, but you’re far more likely to make it part of your routine if you find it fun. Remember, the gym isn’t the only place to get your aerobic and strength-training workouts in. If you’ve never felt an affinity with exercise, now is a great excuse to try something new.
Try out things like cycling, swimming, badminton, yoga, football, dancing and HIIT until you find something that works for you. There are lots of home workout options available online, too.
One of the simplest ways to improve your health and wellbeing is to make sure you’re drinking enough water each day. Water is incredibly important to help keep us hydrated, energised and performing well. Aim to drink ten glasses every day.
Cut back on alcohol
Reassuringly, our Wellbeing Index shows that 23% of men have cut down the amount of alcohol they’ve been drinking over the last year. However, this shows that lots of men still have some work to do to change their drinking habits.
Cutting down on your alcohol intake can help improve your sleep, liver health and mood – and might even help you to lose weight. With so many alcohol-free alternatives on the market, try and swap out some of your usual post-work drinks to gain the health benefits.
Check your balls
It’s important to check your testicles at least once a month so you can get to know what’s normal for you, and make it easier to spot any lumps or swelling that could be a sign of testicular cancer, or other conditions. If you find a lump or swelling, contact your GP as soon as possible for a check:
- Stand in front of a mirror and check if you can see anything unusual, like any swelling on the skin.
- Feel the size and weight of each testicle. You may notice that one testicle is larger or hangs lower than the other. This is completely normal.
- Get to know the feel of your testicles by rolling each one between your fingers and thumb. They should feel smooth, without any lumps or swellings.
- Compare your testicles with each other – get to know any differences between them.
Check for changes to your peeing habits
If you spot any changes to the way you pee, it’s important to get an appointment with GP as this can sometimes be a sign of prostate or bladder problems including cancer – prostate disease commonly affects men over the age of 50.
Likewise, if you spot any of the following changes, contact your GP:
- Needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
- Straining or difficulty starting urinating
- A weak flow of urine
- Difficulty to stop when peeing or dribbling urine
- Feeling like you’re not able to fully empty your bladder
- Blood in urine
- Pain on passing urine
Reinvigorate your diet
Eating the right food is key to giving your body all the energy and nutrients it needs. Along with giving us energy, a healthy diet keeps your weight in the right range, reduces your risk of health conditions like diabetes, stroke and some cancers, looks after your heart, improves your bones, joints, sleep and immune system.
It can be tricky to know if your eating habits are actually healthy – try our healthy eating quiz to get some guidance, or speak to a GP.
Don’t forget your mental health
Staying mentally well involves a combination of exercise, eating a balanced diet, socialising well and more, but if you don’t feel like yourself, it could signal that you need some extra support with your mental health.
Talking about your mental health can feel intimidating but sharing how you feel with someone else is an incredibly important step to get you feeling better. Remember, mental health issues are really common, with one in four people in the UK suffering with one, every year.
Don’t be shy – speak to a health professional
Be vigilant about any changes that happen in your body. While it’s unlikely to be anything serious, it’s always best to get checked over by a healthcare professional as soon as possible – just in case.
For peace of mind that everything’s ticking over nicely, a health assessment gives you an overall picture of your health and wellbeing, along with addressing any worries you may have.
Dr Luke Powles is the clinical director for Bupa Health Clinics.
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