Photo: Shutterstock.

Did you know that 85 percent of Canadian men exceed their daily recommended sodium intake or that smoking doubles the likelihood of a guy experiencing erectile dysfunction? Were you aware that 80 percent of suicides in Canada are men?

These health factoids can be bitter pills to swallow – but men need to listen up. Much of what ails the male population has naught to do with how we’re built. (That sodium intake? Dudes, we should be embarrassed. But surely we can fix that.)

Canadians believe they’re a pretty healthy nation but weirdly, Canadian guys aren’t that healthy and it’s not because of genetics; it’s a result of lifestyle.”

“Canadians believe they’re a pretty healthy nation but weirdly, Canadian guys aren’t that healthy and it’s not because of genetics; it’s a result of lifestyle,” says Dr. Larry Goldberg, cofounder of the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF) a national, not-for-profit organization with the motto, “Inspiring Canadian Men to Live Healthier Lives.”

It’s a worthy goal for sure – but one that’s easier said than done. It seems we menfolk haven’t been getting the message – or we’ve not been paying adequate attention. According to the founders of CMHF: “There is a real need in Canada to provide men health marketing messages in a way they can truly hear, absorb and act on. Men are at an increased risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, and complications from diabetes. This is due, in part, to the fact that most lifestyle-related risk factors – smoking, overuse of alcohol, physical inactivity, overweight/obesity – are more prevalent among males.”

As part of its campaign to capture the attention of Canadian men, the CHMF has produced the free downloadable Men’s Maintenance Guide to provide men “with a straightforward, common sense health-maintenance schedule. Whether you are 22 or 58 years of age, this guide is your manual for keeping your body humming and tuned up.”

It’s time to shake the salt habit. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, Murasaki.

The maintenance guide is aligned with the CMHF’s “Don’t Change Much” theme, which is built around the concept that small steps become habits, and habits lead to a healthier lifestyle. The express goal of the guide is to add 10 healthy, active years to the life of every man. “The campaign shifts the perception of healthy behaviours from un-masculine to masculine: the right thing to do for those who count on you,” says Dr. Goldberg.

 

15 health facts about what affects lengthen or shorten a man’s life

  1. A staggering 67 percent of Canadian men are overweight or obese.
  2. Men are 57 percent more likely to die from diabetes.
  3. Over 80 percent of spinal cord injuries are incurred by males.
  4. Males account for 82 percent of alcohol-related deaths.

    Men account for 82 percent of all deaths due to alcohol. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, Melanie Levi.
  5. Men are 29 percent more likely than women to be diagnosed with cancer and 40 percent more likely to die as a result.
  6. Men are 79 percent more likely to die from heart disease.
  7. Poor eating habits: 85 percent of men exceed their daily recommended sodium intake. (Two words: processed foods.)
  8. On average, men endure nine more years of unhealthy life than women. But, it’s not all dire. I learned some excellent positive facts, which should inspire my fellow men to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
  9. Men who drink five tall glasses (2.5 litres) of water each day are 54 percent less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack than those who drink two glasses or less daily.
  10. Light drinkers – those who drink one to two drinks per day at most – reduce their risk of heart attack by almost 30 percent.
  11. Guys who climb 50 stairs or more or walk five city blocks each day have a 25 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who climb or walk less.
  12. Men who sleep seven to eight hours nightly have about 60 percent less risk of a fatal heart attack than those who sleep five hours or less.

    Adequate sleep is a cornerstone of good health. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons, Timothy Krause.
  13. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction by 30 percent after one year. Men who have never smoked are 50 percent less likely to develop erectile dysfunction.
  14. Men between the ages of 40 and 54 should get a digital rectal examination and a PSA blood test every two years, or more often if there are risk factors for prostate cancer or your physician has concerns.
  15. Men 55 years of age and older should undergo an abdominal ultra sound every five years to check liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and the blood vessels that lead to these organs.

Does it seem a little overwhelming? Not to worry. The guys at the CMHF have got you covered: the CMHF and the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine have built an easy-to-use and quick online tool called You Check, the world’s first health awareness tool designed specifically for men. The web-based tool prompts users (men, in this case) to answer 20 questions about their health. In a matter of minutes, the respondents receive a report – and action plan – that assesses their 10-year risk for developing one of the eight diseases and conditions most common to men in Canada (heart attack, type 2 diabetes, prostate cancer, osteoporosis, erectile dysfunction, low testosterone levels, depression, colon cancer) and how simple lifestyle changes can reduce risk and prevent the disease from developing.

The most important lesson learned from the CMHF Men’s Maintenance Guide: 70 percent of men’s health problems can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Today is as good a day as any to start!

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Doug O'Neill
O’Neill, formerly Executive Editor of Canadian Living, writes on all manner of topics for a variety of Canadian publications – but has a preference for storytelling that gets to the heart of things. “Writing about journeys has always fascinated me,'” says contributor Doug O’Neill, “whether I’m scribbling about my own travels around the world or about other people’s inspiring journeys as they navigate from one life stage to another.”