When I was asked to write something promoting men’s health my brain immediately jumped to the fact that so many of these articles say the same things. We have the information, why are we still making poor health choices?
IMPORTANCE OF MAINTAINING GOOD PHYSICAL HEALTH
Let’s start with physical health. How is your fitness level? Your diet? Do you make time to exercise? Do you make time to prepare nutritious meals? These are all instrumental in maintaining good physical health, but also play a major role in good mental health.
Regular exercise has been shown time and time again to aid in the prevention of many health problems. We continuously hear about health issues like diabetes and heart disease affecting men’s health. While it is true genetics play a large role in the development of most of these health problems, it is equally true that physical activity and good lifestyle choices contribute to the management and even prevention of these issues.
Look, exercise does not have to be at the level of a professional athlete, and in most cases, training as such would be wildly inappropriate due to our schedules and jobs, etc. These folks get paid to train and compete, we don’t. We can, however, maintain a good level of general physical preparedness by exercising regularly.
I know I am not telling you something you don’t already know. So why aren’t you keeping up with your physical health?
IS TIME THE ISSUE?
People claim they don’t have time to exercise, but they have plenty of time to play that new video game that dropped last week. They have plenty of time to drink with their friends Saturday. They even have enough time to scroll through Tik-Tok and Instagram for a total of 6+ hours this week. Do you see where I am going with this? The vast majority of people have the time to exercise each week, they simply choose to do other things.
150 minutes per week… is all you need to reap the health benefits of exercise.
150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Less than 3 hours per week. That’s not so bad, so how can you accomplish that?
By finding a form of exercise that you prefer. Ideally, resistance training as well as cardio should be done, but something is better than nothing. Resistance training and cardio-focused training both offer different benefits, so try to incorporate both. Regular physical activity can also benefit your mental health as well, which brings me to the next point.
IMPORTANCE OF MAINTAINING GOOD MENTAL HEALTH
So many people experience anxiety, depression, and general stress related issues. Aside from exercise, there are many other things that can help reduce your stress levels. What you eat has a huge impact on your mental health. Your hobbies are also important. Be sure that one of your hobbies consists of something relaxing.
I could go on and on about the benefits of mental health management, but we have all seen the same things regurgitated over and over in these articles. The best thing to do is to commit to the activities that interest YOU. A plan only works if it is followed, and the best way to ensure adherence is to choose something that you can see yourself doing.
Lastly, reach out to a mental health professional if you need help. The people you want in your life would rather you seek help than simply “toughing it out.” There is ZERO shame in seeking help.
Re-read that last sentence.
There is ZERO shame in seeking help!
IMPORTANCE OF MAINTAINING GOOD NUTRITION
Nutrition is a subject I won’t spend TOO much time on, mostly because diet is largely individual. I will say that no single diet is superior to the next. Some are even terrible for you. Remember that weight loss all comes down to calories in vs calories out. Arguments are endless online about which diet works the best, blah blah blah. The best “diet” is the one that works for you. Some people can’t follow certain diets, because of health reasons. It is always best to speak to a Registered Dietician before making any drastic diet changes. Most people claiming to be a “nutritionist” are people who obtained a certification and are not able to prescribe meal plans, so be careful who you trust when it comes to nutrition advice.
Registered Dietician services require payment, it’s true. This is because health specialists spend time and money on education and experience and deserve compensation. Remember that when you tell yourself you can’t afford that gym membership while you are eating out at a restaurant. For the vast majority of us, time is not the issue… it’s discipline.
EFFECTS OF YOUR HEALTH CHOICES
For men, specifically, we have seen the average testosterone levels drop drastically over the years. Why is that? Lack of exercise, poor diet, and overall poor lifestyle choices appear to be to blame. Everything I have mentioned throughout this article has an effect on hormone regulation. I encourage every male to speak to their doctors about their hormone levels and any concerns they have. Poor mental health can have an effect on hormone production as well.
Remember that good health requires long term solutions. So please, start taking care of yourself before something crops up.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”– BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
Toby Ralph is a military spouse, father, and physical health advocate. As a personal trainer and natural bodybuilding coach, his focus is improving mental wellbeing through physical fitness. Gaining control of your mental and physical health is key to the successful navigation of the stressors you face daily. His story was the cover article for Military Families Magazine in December 2022.