As we age, we tend to move less and sit more. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare nearly 40% of Australians aged 45 and over have two or more chronic diseases. The most prevalent chronic conditions include arthritis, respiratory conditions, back problems, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental health conditions. Reduced physical activity levels, poor diet, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and sedentary lifestyles are all behaviours that can impact and contribute to men developing these conditions. On the plus side, these are what we call modifiable risk factors, meaning we can change these behaviours to reduce the risk of developing or having them progress further.
Five ways movement and physical activity can improve your health:
- Regular exercise can help control your blood pressure and increases blood flow around the body.
- Resistance training can increase the strength in your muscles to support your joints and reduce pain as well as reducing the risk of falling.
- Physical activity helps control your blood sugar levels to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes.
- Exercise can help with mental health conditions such as depression by increasing the good chemicals in your brain to promote an improvement in mood.
- For those with respiratory conditions, exercise such as walking can help reduce breathlessness during daily activities.
Often working physical activity into your lifestyle and seeking help is a challenge. Due to the increased awareness around the benefits of physical activity, more and more men are starting to increase their activity levels. The important part is finding an activity you enjoy and surrounding yourself with people who can guide you to move in a safe and appropriate way.
If you would like more advice about starting physical activity speak to an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP). AEPs specialise in prescribing exercise to people with chronic and complex conditions. To find an AEP in your local area visit the Exercise and Sports Science Australia website www.essa.org.au or for more information about exercise and men’s health visit http://realmenmove.org.au/ or http://exerciseright.com.au/
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: AIHW 2015.Australian Burden of Disease Study: fatal burden of disease 2010. Cat. no. BOD 1. Canberra: AIHW.