Universally, research has demonstrated that women live longer than men (Worldometer., 2021). A cause of this is a combination of both mental and physical health contributors.
Statistics in England demonstrated the disparity in men’s mental health as it has been found that men are three times more likely than women to commit suicide. They are also less likely to seek psychological support (Mental Health, 2021).
In addition, men are more likely to experience stroke, heart disease and cancer (Seifarth, McGowan & Milne., 2012). Also, men are more likely to die from Covid-19 (Pérez-López, Tajada & Savirón-Cornudella et al, 2019).
Physical and mental health difficulties can occur together. For instance, depression in individuals with coronary heart disease is 1.6 – 1.8 times that of the general population and increases the risk of a poorer outcome after a cardiac event (World Health Organisation, 2019).
Being aware of the statistics can help you identify ways to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Understanding how to maintain mental health is one way to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Check out our tips here.
Another way to build a healthier lifestyle is by maintaining your physical health:
1. Physical health checks
As good practice, everyone needs to visit the doctor for regular health checks. Physical health checks are paramount if you are feeling unwell or notice something different about your body.
Screening and regular check-ups can detect diseases earlier when they can be easier to treat. Therefore, if appointments are during work time try to prioritise attending these appointments.
2. Staying active
In the UK, one in eight men compared to one in fifteen women die from coronary heart disease (British Heart Foundation, 2021).
There are risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. For instance, 50% of heart attacks and stroke are associated with high blood pressure (British Heart Foundation, 2021).
Increasing your physical activity can support reducing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and controlling your weight. Additionally, physical activity can reduce the risk of depression by up to 45% (World Health Organisation, 2019).
Check out the British Heart Foundation tips on Staying Active.
While balancing life commitments and shift patterns, it is understandable that you may struggle to find time and motivation to exercise.
Here are five tips to help you start exercising and staying active at work:
- Start small, plan and set realistic goals. Using an app or exercise programme can help you with this. Check out the NHS beginner friendly 12-week fitness plan.
- Incorporate exercise into something you do regularly, such as food shopping, taking a walk for lunch, using the stairs instead of the lift.
- Take regular breaks from your computer: every 30 minutes, stand up and move around.
- Find an exercise partner. Having a buddy system can help with accountability and motivation to exercise. For example, find a colleague to go on a walk with during lunch times.
- Spend time outdoors by walking or cycling. Spending time outdoors has both physical and mental health benefits. Read more on Mind.
Tips adapted from Better Health.
3. Eating healthier
A balanced diet can improve your physical health by reducing your chances of experiencing high blood pressure, high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes (British Heart Foundation, 2018).
Also, there is research to suggest that what you eat can impact your mental wellbeing. For instance, too much caffeine can reduce the quality of sleep. For some, caffeine can contribute to an irritable and anxious mood (Mental Health, 2021).
For further information on diet and wellbeing, read this BBC article on diet wellbeing.
British Heart Foundation Eat Better Guide: Contains support on how to make changes and build good habits.
4. Quit smoking or alcohol
Alcohol impacts the body in a different number of ways. Drinkaware have an article on the effects of alcohol on the body. For example, regularly consuming more than the recommended guidelines can cause high blood pressure (Acin et al., 2020). High blood pressure can increase the risk of a heart attack and stroke (NHS, 2021).
Stopping smoking has been found to boost mental wellbeing. Smoking is also associated with a number of physical health problems.
Keeping Well BLMK provides support for anyone who is struggling with substance misuse, including alcohol and tobacco. All support is confidential and evidence-based and includes providing harm minimisation approaches, motivational interviewing, relapse prevention and health education.
Also, we support any supervisors or managers concerned about an employee that may be struggling with substance misuse, to ensure they receive the right support as soon as possible. Please visit the advice for managers page for further information.
5. Take a break
Working long hours, working overtime and not taking annual leave can lead to a reduction in the quality of your physical and mental health. Overworking can affect your sleep and eating habits; and having time for meaningful relationships in your life.
Overworking for a prolonged period can lead to chronic stress. When we are stressed, our body releases the hormone cortisol. If we remain stressed, the levels of cortisol in our bodies grow, which contributes to an increased risk of many health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Also, increased levels of cortisol can negatively impact our mood, memory and cognitive impairment (read more on Mayo Clinic).
Movember is a charity organisation that champions improving men’s health. Their website contains information on men’s mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Visit the Movember website to find out more.
“Movember Conversations”: A interactive tool used to gain the skills and confidence to approach challenging conversations with men.
- Acin, M., Rueda, J., Saiz, L., Parent Mathias, V., Alzueta, N., & Solà, I. et al. (2020). Alcohol intake reduction for controlling hypertension. Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews, 2020(9). doi: 10.1002/14651858.cd010022.pub2
- Life Expectancy by Country and in the World (2021) - Worldometer. (2021).Worldometer. Life expectancy of the world population. Available from: https://www.worldometers.info/demographics/life-expectancy [accessed 9th November 2021].
- Mental Health - Men and mental health
- Pérez-López, F., Tajada, M., Savirón-Cornudella, R., Sánchez-Prieto, M., Chedraui, P., & Terán, E. (2020). Coronavirus disease 2019 and gender-related mortality in European countries: A meta-analysis. Maturitas, 141, 59-62. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2020.06.017
- Seifarth, J., McGowan, C., & Milne, K. (2012). Sex and Life Expectancy. Gender Medicine, 9(6), 390-401. doi: 10.1016/j.genm.2012.10.001
- British Heart Foundation - Heart Statistics
- Motion for your mind: Physical activity for mental health promotion, protection and care
- Mental health - Diet and mental health
- NHS - High blood pressure (hypertension)
Updated on: 20/04/2022