From workouts to healthy diets, many of us make an effort to look after ourselves. However, we could be compromising our health on a daily basis, sometimes without even knowing it. From bottling things up to eating fast food, here are the top 11 male habits you should try to break.
While women are rapidly catching up with men in the drinking stakes, binge drinking is still more common among men, and there are consistently higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalisations in men. Binge drinking not only affects long-term health, but it also puts your immediate safety at risk and can lead to rapid weight gain. To safeguard your health, it’s important to stick to recommended limits and drink in moderation.
Avoiding the doctor
Research by the charity Men’s Health Forum has revealed that men are 20 per cent less likely than women to visit their doctor, despite the fact that they have shorter life spans than women and are more likely to die from cancer. While visiting the doctor is rarely a pleasant experience, diagnosing most illnesses early increases rates of survival. And that should be reason enough to stop ignoring those symptoms and give your doctor a call.
Not doing self-checks
Just like with visiting the doctor, many men avoid doing necessary health self-checks due to fear, denial of the risks, or confusion over what to do. However, it is vital that men check themselves regularly for signs of testicular cancer as incidences of the disease is on the rise, particularly in young and middle-aged men. If you are not sure how to go about checking yourself, visit a reputable website or ask your doctor for tips on performing these necessary checks.
Bottling things up
Fact is that on the whole, men are less likely than women to talk about their feelings, express emotion or ask for help and support. Perhaps as a consequence of this, men are half as likely as women to be diagnosed with depression, yet studies suggest that 77 per cent are more likely to commit suicide. Depressed men are also twice as likely as depressed women to resort to alcohol and drug abuse. Incidentally, bottling up anger is just as detrimental to men’s health, and research suggests that men who don’t express their anger increase their risk of a heart attack.
Stressing over work
While men and women are equally exposed to workplace stress, a survey of 3,000 workers by Medicash suggested men are four times more likely than women to take a sick day due to work-related stress and are twice as likely to turn to alcohol to help deal with it. As workplace stress can be an important factor in the development of depression, heart disease and stroke, it is vital to seek a way to resolve your feelings and ease your stress; whether it is by talking to your boss, changing your job or seeking professional help.
Men can often hit the gym hard, and while this is a good thing, going too often or staying in the gym too long might actually be bad for you. David Nieman, a health and exercise science specialist, has found that 90 minutes or more of continuous, moderate- to high-intensity, exercise can weaken your immune system and make you more prone to illness. And your body could still be feeling the effects of a long workout over 72 hours later. If you don’t give yourself proper time to recover after working out and put too much stress on your body while training, you could be doing more harm than good.
We shouldn’t assume you’ve managed to kick the habit yet. Figures show about 10 million adults smoke cigarettes in Britain, around a sixth of the population, including 22% of adult men. For every year you smoke after age 40, statistics suggest you’re shortening your life by three months. Yet while the health effects of smoking are well known, it seems that people continue to smoke, often socially. While you may realise this, you may still struggle to quit. However, chances of successfully quitting increase through using nicotine replacement products such as patches, gum and lozenges. Prescription drugs are also available to help reduce those cravings. There may be side-effects though, so consult your doctor.
Not applying sunscreen
Multiple research studies have shown that few of us regularly wear sunscreen, and that men are the worst offenders. According to research by Mintel on sunscreen use in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, an average of 52 per cent of women use sunscreen, compared to only 37 per cent of men. However, with many men spending significant time outdoor for sports, work or leisure, it is vital to cover up with appropriate clothing and sunscreen before heading outside. While we’re on the subject, always double-check on the effectiveness of the sunscreen you’re using. There’s been a fair bit of publicity over misleading information on products, and the wrong sunscreen can increase cancer risk.
Poor bathroom hygiene
Do you wash your hands after visiting the bathroom? Hopefully you’re appalled by any suggestion that you don’t. But according to a study by the American Society for Microbiology and the Soap and Detergent Association, one in three men don’t! Furthermore, a London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine study carried out at service stations found that only a third of men washed their hands with soap. Not washing your hands is the quickest way to spread germs and infection, so protect your health and those around you by making sure you lather up before leaving the bathroom.
Not brushing your teeth
According to a study by the American Dental Association, only 66 per cent of men brush their teeth twice or more a day, compared to 86 per cent of women. We’re sure you find that quite shocking. Furthermore, research findings published in the Journal of Periodontology showed that women are almost twice as likely to have regular dental check-ups as men. Poor dental hygiene is not only bad news for your teeth and gums either. Research has shown that gum disease can increase risk of heart disease, erectile dysfunction and dementia.
Eating fast food and takeaways
In today’s fast food culture, many of us are guilty of hampering our weight loss by indulging in too much junk food, and this is particularly true for men. A survey by America’s Pew Research Centre revealed that 47 per cent of men eat in a fast food restaurant at least weekly, compared to 35 per cent of women. That cannot be good. With an average takeaway containing over half your recommended daily calories and copious amounts of salt, do your health a favour by cutting back on those trips to fast food outlets and replacing them with home-cooked meals.