How exercise keeps men alive, longer

Exercise is an important factor in the health and lifestyles of all Australians, but it’s particularly important for men. They suffer higher rates of disease and lower life expectancy compared to women. Males also experience over three times the rate of suicide and are more likely to be overweight or obese.

So, what can we do about it?

Exercise improves the quality of life, health and fitness of men of all ages. It also has many benefits in the prevention and management of almost all chronic diseases. Most chronic diseases are largely preventable and certain risk factors are modifiable such as physical inactivity, which has been proven as the leading cause of chronic disease world-wide. Physical activity levels can be improved through greater education of males of all ages and raising awareness of the impacts of a sedentary lifestyle.

Benefits of regular physical activity and exercise include:

Physical benefits

Regular physical activity increases cardiorespiratory fitness, strength, muscle mass, bone density, mobility and joint health and energy levels. It also results in better management of blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

Psychological benefits

Exercise can reduce stress, improve mental health, sleep quality, mood, self-esteem and confidence.

Social benefits

Being active with others helps to develop friendships, confidence, communication, networking with others and enjoyment.

Most prevalent chronic diseases in men

(and how exercise can help):

1. Cardiovascular disease – reduced risk of heart disease through improving cardiovascular fitness, heart health, aerobic capacity and endurance.
2. Back pain – improve strength, movement, mobility, stability, posture and pelvic control.
3. Mental health – increase feelings of well-being, endorphin release, reduce stress, improve sleep patterns and develop social networks.
4. Arthritis – improve musculoskeletal strength and resilience, joint mobility and range of movement, bone health, pain management.
5. Asthma – manage symptoms, improve cardiorespiratory fitness to reduce fatigue and breathlessness.
6. Diabetes – manage blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance and insulin efficiency, increase muscle mass, promote weight management.

Best types of exercise for men?

Physical activity can include any type of movement, general daily activities and incidental activity whereas exercise is planned, structured and goal focussed. Men should try to be active on a daily basis, any physical activity is better than nothing, start slowly and gradually increase duration as able.

Physical Activity Recommendations for Adults 18-64:

  • Perform at least 150min of moderate physical activity per week- eg. walking, running, cycling, gardening, swimming, group activities, team sports etc
  • Perform 2 strength training sessions per week- including body weight exercises, home based, gym, park, circuit training or groups.

It’s important to remember that these are the basic recommendations only. For greater health and fitness benefits, exercise intensity and duration can be increased progressively depending on the individual’s goals and ability.

Take away recommendations:

1. Start NOW, become active, set a goal and commit to a routine but include some variety.
2. Include social activities and engage some mates along the way, make it enjoyable, attend group activities, participate in team sports or sign up for an event.
3. Consider diet, alcohol intake and other lifestyle modifications to further improve health and well-being for the long term.

If you want to find out how to exercise with chronic conditions, chat to your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP). They are specifically trained to deal with these illnesses and their services are claimable under medicare and most private health insurers. To find an AEP near you, click here.

Aaron Ashdown is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at A+ Health and Performance.