men's health

Top 5 Killers of Men (& how exercise can help)

Men, we need to talk! Your current lifestyle choices could be increasing your risk of a chronic disease and putting your life in danger.

Let’s explore the top five diseases that are causing the premature death of Aussie men, and how exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent them!

The Countdown…

5. Chronic Lower Respiratory disease (CLRD):

Killed 4,268 Australian men in 2017.

What is it?

CLRD is the collection of conditions that causes damage to the lungs and restricts airflow. It consists of a number of conditions including emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic bronchitis. These conditions all affect the lower respiratory system.

How Exercise Can Help


4. Stroke:

Killed 4,302 Australian men in 2017.

What is it?

A stroke occurs when blood flow to or within the brain is affected. This results in a lack of oxygen and nutrients to areas of brain causing cell death of that area. There are 2 types of stroke, Ischemic and Transient Ischemic Attach (TIA). A TIA is a temporary blockage that results in no permanent damage.  However an Ischemic event is the most common and is either a blockage in the brain (thrombotic), a blockage that travels to the brain (embolic) or a rupture on the brain (hemorrhagic).

How exercise can help

Many lifestyle factors can increase a persons’ risk of stroke such as; smoking, high blood pressure, artery disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and a lack of physical activity. Being a male also increases your risk of stroke, which is why it’s so important to reduce other risk factors.

  • Any exercise, when compared to no exercise, protects against the risk of stroke
  • Older men who are moderately physical active are least likely to have a stroke
  • Moderate to high levels of physical activity reduces risk of all stroke
  • Exercise decreases your total risk factors by:
    • Decreasing blood pressure
    • Decreasing total cholesterol
    • Managing / Controlling weight


3. Dementia:

Underlying cause of death for 4,870 Australian men.

What is it?

Dementia is a collection of symptoms that affect the brain, it includes conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Vascular disease, Lewy bodies dementia and Huntington’s disease. Dementia affects a persons ability to think, how they behave and their ability to complete everyday tasks. An average of 36 people per day die due to dementia. In 2019 there are 447, 115 Australians living with dementia.

How exercise can help

The World Health Organisation have recently released new exercise guidelines to assist in the prevention of dementia. Evidence is piling up to prove that the more active you are in life, the lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. On top of that;

  • Aerobic exercise (walking, cycling, swimming) improves cognitive function
  • Physical activity maintains performance in memory


exercise for men

2. Cancer of the Lungs, Trachea & Bronchus:

Killed 4,911 Australian men.

What is it?

The technical term: “Malignant neoplasm” of the lungs, trachea or bronchus; which translates to cancerous tumor affecting one of these organs.

How exercise can help

Exercise can decrease the risk of lung cancer is both current and former smokers.

1. Ischemic Heart Disease:

Introducing the biggest killer of Aussie men – causing 10,514 deaths in 2017

What is it?

Ischemic heart disease occurs when the arteries of the heart become blocked and therefore oxygen delivery to the heart is limited. Symptoms vary person to person and unfortunately the first sign of ischemic heart disease can be when you have a heart attack.

How exercise can help

Poor lifestyle choices will increase your risk of ischemic heart disease. Being physically active decreases your risk of developing heart disease by:

  • Weight Management – Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for heart disease, and regular exercise helps to keep you at a healthy weight.
  • Reduce your stress – exercise can help to reduce and manage stress.

For more tips on improving your heart health, visit the Heart Foundation’s website.

Take Home Message

If you want to reduce your risk of premature death, making some simple lifestyle changes can help!

  • Reduce excess weight through making healthy food choices
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid sitting for too long – get up, walks & stretch every 1 to 2 hours
  • Exercise – Aim to meet the Australian Physical Activity guidelines for you age group. If you’re living with an illness or chronic disease, an Accredited Exercise Physiologist can help you to exercise safely and create a program tailored to your specific needs.


To chat to your local exercise expert, click here.

Nicole Emery exercise physiologist

Nicole is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist working at Physio on Bayside and Achieve Exercise Physiologist.