5 ways to help Aussie men live longer
Post Date
22nd April 2014
5 ways to help Aussie men live longer

Did you know that the average life expectancy for Australian men is almost five years less than Australian women? Men in Australia are expected to live to 79.5 years of age while women are expected to make it to 84. Worryingly, every hour, more than four men die from potentially preventable conditions in Australia. The good news is that there are things that men can do to tackle that life expectancy age gap. Here are five suggestions that may improve the health of the men in your life.

1. Quit smoking
Smoking is recognised as the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in Australia. It is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, renal disease and eye disease. In Australia, 20 per cent of men over the age of 18 are current smokers, compared with 16 per cent of women.

2. Drink less alcohol
Men are more likely than women to drink alcohol at dangerous levels and to use illicit drugs. In the short term, you risk accident and injury, among other things. For young Australians aged 12 to 24 years, there are three male deaths to every one female death, with accidents and suicide accounting for most of this. Over months and years, the risks of drinking too much include cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, heart muscle damage, inflammation of the liver and pancreas, brain damage and memory loss. All pretty serious stuff, but if you stick to the guidelines, you will be okay. This means two drinks a day for men. One standard drink is one 285ml bottle of beer, one 100ml glass of wine or 30ml of spirit.

3. Lose some weight
Nearly two-thirds of Australia’s population is overweight, with men being twice as likely as women to be overweight or obese. Excess weight is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, some musculoskeletal conditions and some cancers. As the level of excess weight increases, so does the risk of developing these conditions. On the up side, you only need to lose 5-10 per cent of your weight to substantially improve your health and decrease the risks. Aim for slow weight loss – you should lose no more than 0.5-1kg a week, or 10kg in six months. Exercise will help, and has the added benefit of releasing feel-good endorphins.

4. Talk more and have a check up
One of the reasons for the overall poor state of men’s health in Australia may be the reluctance of men to take action when they don’t feel physically or mentally well. Compared to women, men visit the doctor less frequently, have shorter visits, and only attend when their illness is in its later stages. There are a range of theories about why men don’t talk about how they’re feeling, physically or mentally, including a culture of ‘toughness’, and the fact that they are more likely to work fulltime and so are less likely to visit a doctor. Make time for a regular check-up, and don’t be embarrassed to discuss anything – no matter how small – that may be worrying you.

5. Learn more
Experts believe that part of the problem with men’s health in Australia is a lack of interest by men in their own health. Men tend to operate on an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy, and so will not act unless something goes wrong. But small steps can have big health improvements. Ninety-five per cent of men do not, for example, consume sufficient fruit and vegetables for optimum health. Taking some time to learn the basics of nutrition and self-care can have big pay-offs!