Men's Health Week 2020: Exercise Tips for Men
Exercise is a key factor in the overall wellness of the modern man and for PA Hospital (PAH) Physiotherapist Richard Modderman it's also crucial for it to be something you enjoy.
The physio, who has worked at the PAH for several years and is a strong advocate for the role of physical activity in maintaining good mental health, believes consistency and fitting exercise into your life are essential to success.
"The first thing is to start simple, for a lot of guys it's hard to make a new healthy habit, so find something you like doing," he said.
"Everyone has this kind of idea of 'this or that type of exercise is what I need to do to be fit', but if you're meeting the recommended guidelines you are looking at 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
"It's only 150 minutes a week, if that can involve some structured cardiovascular or aerobic exercise such as running, walking, or swimming plus some strength training or even flexibility training such as stretching, that's a good combination to have for your general health."
Building your activity levels gradually can be a great way to improve your health and can be as simple as washing your car, taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
Though exercise can feel like a chore, even when we're healthy, meeting guidelines over a longer period is where you will start to see benefits, with a good basis to consistent exercise being identifying activities and times of the day that work best for your routine and even exercising with a friend.
"Consistency and habit formation is the biggest thing for any lifestyle or behavioural change, if you say 'I want to address my mental and physical health as a man and reduce my risk factors', being consistent is better than just doing a whiz-bang effort for a short period," Richard said.
As we get older regular exercise has shown to be great for maintaining cognition, bone mineral density, joint health and preserving physical function i.e. being able to keep walking, running negotiating stairs and enjoying hobbies like gardening.
For men diagnosed with prostate cancer or who've spent some time in hospital for other health problems, regular physical activity can be highly positive for their recovery and overall long-term health post hospitalisation or illness.
"We know that anyone that's had an illness, surgery or condition, if they stay very sedentary after that event, that correlates strongly with ongoing disability, whereas people that get moving and physically active earlier seem to return to their normal life a bit better and also report better quality of life," Richard said.
Whether you're fit and healthy or you've been having some health issues, exercise that suits your life can be highly positive for your long-term health and reduce risks of further problems like heart attacks, stroke and diabetes.
"With cancer and serious diseases, we know exercise can have a key role in overall health and reducing risk of further problems. Heart disease for example, most people acknowledge that 'if I've had a heart attack or blocked artery I've got to pull my finger out and eat better, exercise more and drop the smoke and drink', we seem to know that as a society," he said.
"What a lot of people don't realise is that physical activity and exercise can be a keystone habit for overall wellness and supporting good mental health too, as well as physical health".
"We know people who are more physically active report benefits to mood, focus and concentration and increased productivity, and may be less likely to suffer from symptoms of depression and anxiety.
"Rates of depression, suicide and substance misuse are also high in men. Part of this might relate to a view of the Aussie bloke to be tough and enduring and being afraid to speak up about their mental health."
Richard said regular exercise helps with other healthy habits such as improving personal relationships, a healthier diet and getting more sleep, all of which will contribute to better overall health.
"For men, sitting down and working out who you're happy to talk with about your health - both physical and mental, looking at some resources, and making a wellness plan for yourself is so important."