As much as wellbeing applies to both men and women, it is common for women to live more healthy lifestyles than men. For instance, when compared to women, men are more likely to smoke and consume alcohol risking addiction and also have a tendency to delay regular medical visits until it becomes unavoidable, which can be costly in many ways. These behaviours are not only unhealthy but also have detrimental social and economic consequences not only to the men but also their kith and kin.
Men have to strike a balance between leisure activities and healthy living not only for themselves but for their family members especially in those cases where they are the only or the main breadwinner. Men have to appreciate that toxic or laisse faire cultural lifestyles have dire consequences. As such, there is a need for awareness of risk factors and what can be done to improve their overall health first and foremost for themselves and then for the benefit of others.
Every year in November, the global men’s health network, the Movember Foundation strive to raise awareness of various health issues that affect men such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental issues.
The objectives of the Movember movement are:
*Reduced mortality from prostate, testicular cancer and men's suicide
*Men living with prostate or testicular cancer being physically and mentally well
*Men and boys need to understand how to be mentally healthy and take action when they experience mental health problems
*Men and boys with mental health problems not being discriminated against (us.movember.com)
The challenges to achieving the aforementioned are:
*Lack of awareness and understanding of the health issues men face
*Men not openly discussing their health and how they are feeling
*Reluctance to take action when men don't feel physically or mentally well
*Men engaging in risky activities that threaten their lives
*Men are less likely to visit a doctor than women (us.movember.com)
The Australian organisation, A+ Health and Performance (2018) claims that sport offers several benefits which can contribute positively to men's health.
*Physical- increase in cardiorespiratory fitness, strength, muscle mass, bone density, mobility and joint health, energy levels along with better management of blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
*Psychological- reduce stress, improve mental health, sleep quality, mood, self-esteem and confidence.
*Social- develop friends, confidence, communication, networking with others for enjoyment.
*Physical activity- men should try to be active on a daily basis and any physical activity is better than nothing. The key is to start slowly and gradually the tempo/pace and duration. (aplushealthperformance.com.au)
Additionally, A+ Health and Performance (2018) highlights some of the prevalent chronic diseases affecting men (this holds for TT), and how exercise can be beneficial towards addressing them:
*Cardiovascular diseases- reduced risk of heart disease through improving cardiovascular fitness, heart health, aerobic capacity and endurance.
*Back pain- improve strength, movement, mobility, stability, posture and pelvic control.
*Mental health-increase feelings of well-being, endorphin release, reduce stress, improve sleep patterns and develop social networks.
*Arthritis-improve musculoskeletal strength and resilience, joint mobility and range of movement, bone health, pain management.
*Asthma-manage symptoms, improve cardiorespiratory fitness to reduce fatigue and breathlessness.
*Diabetes- manage blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance and insulin efficiency, increase muscle mass, promote weight management.
Sporting spaces should not only be for males -boys and men- to engage in organized sport and physical activity, but also where they can speak openly about their health-physical, social and mental. This holistic conceptualisation of sporting spaces can play a pivotal role in preventing as well as helping males- boys and men- cope with the multitude of ineluctable realities of life.
National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) and their affiliates have to create propitious holistic environments whereby males across all demographics- age, ethnicity, class, religion and geography- are exposed to knowledge and participate in healthy conversations about the direct and indirect multifaceted benefits of physical activity. The knowledge that is required already exist through various stakeholders- the medical fraternity, psychologists, sport medicine practitioners, nutritionists etc.
In the current period of COVID-19, men's health must not be underemphasized as those with chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCD) are most vulnerable to succumb to the virus. It is not too late to start the ball rolling toward becoming physically active as the benefits will not only redound directly but will also have an impact on family and other aspects of life. Organised sport and physical activity have an important role in fostering a fulfilling life by emphasizing the old adage, 'prevention is better than cure.'