We all know that guy - the one who’s got it all together. He has glowing good health, is surrounded by good mates and has a supportive life relationship, and is happy and stress free to boot. It may appear effortless but in truth, he works at it. He’s probably already clued in to these top 10 secrets to health and happiness – for men. Check them out:
1. They focus on exercise that makes them strong AND flexible
First of all, we should all be getting at least half an hour of exercise every day. But the type of exercise you get also makes a difference. Men have a tendency to focus on building strength over flexibility, but flexibility is vital for skeletal and muscular health - and for combating back pain. Consider incorporating yoga, pilates or a stretch-and-tone class into your weekly routine - and always do a round of stretching after a cardio or weights workout.
Top tip: incorporate regular breaks for neck and back stretches into your working day as well.
2. They go for their regular, age-appropriate health checkups
Men, far more than women, have a tendency to neglect their health. The healthy man goes for regular checkups for testicular and prostate cancer, and talks to his doctor about risk factors for lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Making the time for these checkups and responding quickly to any problems that arise will help you to live a long and healthy life.
3. They eat healthily - and that includes salads
Don’t be drawn in by the ego-boost of “man-sized”! Eat lean proteins and lots of veggies, make your choice between low carb and low fat and then stick to your meal plan.
4. They get downtime that isn’t escapism
It’s vitally important for men to spend some time relaxing - but this relaxation should be true downtime. Meeting the okes at a pub or playing a computer game may be fun, but these don’t give your mind the time it needs to destress. Instead, consider some time spent outdoors, a hike, something creative or even meditation.
5. They work on positive relationships
A 75-year-long Harvard study on the relationship between happiness and health revealed one clear factor that differentiates healthy men from unhealthy men - positive, long-term relationships. Men with stable and supportive life partnerships tend to live for longer and do better mentally. Close, quality friendships also play a key role in keeping men healthy.
Work on your relationships. Don’t take friends and family for granted.
6. They get enough sleep
Yawn! It’s so boring to be told to get eight hours a night, that the National Sleep Foundation conducted a two-year long study to clarify exactly how much sleep people need at every age, and they revealed that, yup, it’s eight hours. If you’re not getting enough shut-eye, you need to take a look at your stress factors and caffeine intake (and party habits) to improve your quality of life, day and night.
7. They work on their stress
Stress doesn’t have to be a way of life and men need a work-life balance just as much as women do. With our busy modern lifestyles, it can be hard to respond to all the physical, social, professional, family and leisure demands, but if any one of these areas is neglected for too long, you will start to suffer. At least be aware of the areas of your life that are not getting the attention they need, and work towards making time for them, when you are able, as well as addressing the specific causes of long-term stress.
8. They avoid sugary drinks - all sugar, in fact - don’t smoke and drink in moderation
The world is waking up to the fact that sugar is really not that good for you. It’s even being branded as the new nicotine. With the awareness that sugar is contributing to a range of lifestyle diseases including heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even cancer, healthy men are avoiding chocolates, sweets and sugary drinks, and replacing them with healthy snacks and water.
And we don’t need to tell you, they drink in moderation and don’t smoke at all.
9. They express their emotions constructively
Historically, men have been expected to keep a stiff upper lip and not show weakness. This generation understands that that’s all nonsense, but it can be hard to overcome our cultural programming. This means that men tend to suppress emotions, which can lead to stress or to outbursts of anger. Learning how to express emotions constructively will go a long way to improving your mental and physical health - and relationships.
10. They take care of their skin
Globally, skin cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer for men, but only the seventh most common type for women. This is not because men are genetically more likely to develop skin cancer, but because they generally spend more time out of doors, are less likely to use sunscreen and pay fewer visits to the doctor.
Since your skin’s health makes such an important contribution to your overall health, make sure you visit a doctor or dermatologist regularly for a skin checkup, and wear sunscreen every day. It’ll keep you looking younger, too!