Regular exercise highly beneficial for men's wellbeing
IF MEN knew that being a healthier version of themselves could improve their love life, they would be lining up to see a doctor or dust off their sneakers.
Even though Movember is almost over it is important to raise the awareness of men's health and wellbeing.
Most men are lazy when it comes to their health or are too busy to take the time to check their mind and body.
According to Exercise & Sports Science Australia exercise physiologist Sebastian Buccheri, most men aged between 30 and 60 are not very physically active because of work and family commitments.
This results in a range of health problems.
"One of the biggest reasons for supporting a cause like Movember is that, as exercise physiologists, we know the importance of staying healthy and the direct benefits of exercise in the management of and prevention of many chronic and complex diseases," Mr Buccheri said.
"My colleagues and I come across depression in about 70% of male pain-management clients.
"I have seen first-hand the benefits a biopsychosocial approach, which means combining exercise and psychological intervention, has on managing depression.
"There is also an overwhelming amount of evidence that links exercise to cancer prevention.
"Exercise is not only essential in the treatment and prevention of chronic disease but can significantly improve other areas of a man's life, including mental alertness, muscle strength and a better sex life."
Mr Buccheri said there were countless studies that confirmed sexual dysfunction was far more likely among those with poor physical health and that vigorous exercise provided the best results.
Like many other aspects of a man's health, education regarding the benefits needs to occur on a much larger scale.
"Men have not made the link between physical activity and improved libido," Mr Buccheri said.
"A few days or weeks at the gym or doing exercise ... we feel sexier, more confident and our sex drive starts roaring.
"Several studies have, in fact, shown that exercise causes a psychological as well as physiological improvement to our sex life.
"Men who are physically inactive and then aerobically exercise three or four days a week, regularly, for at least an hour at a time, soon report more sex and better sex.
Exercise physiologist and associate lecturer at University of Queensland Courtney Hargrave said men did not look after their health as well as women.
He said when it came to their own health and their body men tended to adopt the "don't fix it if it ain't broken" attitude.
"Unfortunately these behaviours are translated into the current average life expectancy of male Australians, 79.5 years, whilst female Australians can expect to live to the ripe old age of 84 years," he said.
He said that physical activity was easily one of the most important factors for good health.
Mr Hargrave said the No.1 cause of death for men in 2008 was heart disease, yet we knew heart disease was largely preventable through physical activity, diet and quitting smoking.
"Risks of conditions such as cancer and type 2 diabetes are also significantly increased in men who do not perform sufficient physical activity," he said.
"Regular physical activity is also important for men who want to maintain a healthy body weight, increase their muscle mass and strengthen their bones."
He said exercise was the best form of preventative medicine and was a prescription for good health that was free and had no side effects.
"There is ample evidence of the risk-reduction benefits of physical activity and chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, hypertension and some forms of cancer," he said.
"However, just like all medications, you need to ensure you are getting the right dose: 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week, preferably all days of the week.
Mr Hargrave said the stigma with men was that they were afraid to see a health professional about their health.
He said men sought help and used health services less frequently than women.
But the reasons behind this were complex and involved biological, psychological and sociological issues, he said.
"Some sociologists have suggested it relates to a man's self-perception of masculinity, which is defined by society by characteristics such as toughness, ruggedness, independence, self-reliance and power," he said.
"Many people report they are physically inactive because they are time poor, which is a hard excuse to accept, given most people can make time for sedentary leisure activities such as watching tv, checking social networking websites etc."
Not only did staying fit reduce health risks it also improved your mental state, reducing depression, he said.
"When you participate in physical activity your body releases chemicals called endorphins.
"These endorphins interact with receptors on your brain to trigger a positive feeling in your body, often described as euphoria."
The top five causes of death in Australian males in 2008 were heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, prostate cancer and suicide.
Mr Hargrave said obesity had significant long-term effects on a man's body, including increased risk of prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnoea, osteoarthritis, asthma, high cholesterol, infertility, gout, lower back pain, erectile dysfunction, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and high blood pressure, to name a few.
Consult with your doctor if you have any medical conditions, or have not had a check-up in more than 12 months, prior to starting an exercise regime or major dietary changes.
There are many great websites and health promotion campaigns that provide free resources such as Exercise is Medicine, Swap it Don't Stop It, 10 000 Steps, Get Healthy information and coaching services, and Quitline.