Why Men's Health and Fitness Matter

Why Men's Health and Fitness Matter

Men's health refers to the well-being of men and their ability to lead a healthy life. It encompasses physical, mental, emotional, and social factors that influence health. Fitness is defined as the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigor, reduce the risk of health problems related to lack of exercise, and have enough energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits. Fitness and overall health are intrinsically linked.

There are several reasons why men's health and fitness matter. First, men have a lower life expectancy compared to women. "On average, men in the UK die 4 years earlier than women" (Public Health England, 2019). Improving health can help close this gap. Second, men have higher rates of chronic health issues like heart disease and are more prone to risky behaviors. Third, mental illnesses in men often go undiagnosed. Fourth, many men fail to make their health and fitness a priority. Fifth, social pressures tell men to "man up" and ignore problems rather than seek help.

Supporting men to lead healthier lifestyles provides widespread societal benefits as well. With this context in mind, this article will analyze why men's health and fitness deserve more attention.

Why Do Men Have More Health Issues?

Men are more prone to certain health problems for biological and genetic reasons. Testosterone contributes to riskier behaviors while lower estrogen levels reduce men's immune response. The male hormones also make various chronic conditions more likely.

Additionally, men utilize preventative medical services less frequently than women. They visit doctors when health concerns are acute rather than seeking regular screenings and checkups. This tendency of men to ignore health issues until they become severe is a major problem.

Key Reasons Men's Health Issues Are Prevalent:

  • "Men's life expectancy is 4 years less than women's on average" (Public Health England, 2019).
  • Diseases like cancer and heart disease affect men at higher rates.
  • Men commit suicide at over 3 times the rate of women (MHF, 2020), showing struggling mental health.
  • Risky behaviors like smoking, drinking alcohol, and ignoring medical problems are more common in men.
  • Testosterone and low estrogen increase the likelihood of various health conditions.

So in summary, biology, behavior, and cultural attitudes contribute to men facing more medical problems.

Why Is Fitness Crucial for Men?

Fitness is vital for men's physical health and mental wellbeing. Exercise boosts testosterone, builds muscle mass, manages weight and body fat levels, and prevents many diseases. Being active for 150 minutes per week along with strength training is key for men.

By increasing strength and cardiovascular fitness, men also improve cognitive abilities while reducing anxiety and depression. Yet despite these benefits, many men fail to incorporate fitness into their daily lives. Establishing exercise habits and pushing past discomfort levels physically and mentally is difficult. But regular fitness pays dividends across one's lifespan.

Benefits of Fitness for Men's Health:

  • Strength training boosts testosterone by 15% to 30% (Kraemer et al, 1990), enhancing masculinity.
  • Fit men have up to a 35% lower risk of depression (Mammen & Faulkner, 2013).
  • Exercise helps manage a healthy body fat percentage of 18% to 24% (NIH, 2021).
  • Being active leads to better heart health, weight control, reduced disease risk, improved mental health, and greater confidence.

So in many ways, exercise serves as preventative medicine for men to avoid declining health over time.

Why Do Men Often Fail to Prioritize Health?

Ignoring health problems and refusing to seek help, known as "masculine norm stereotypes," stem from societal standards and cultural attitudes towards men. Phrases like "man up" pressure men to seem strong rather than admit vulnerabilities. Other barriers include busy work schedules, reluctance towards preventative screenings, lack of knowledge on health risks, high-risk jobs, and poor lifestyle habits starting at a young age.

Key Sociocultural Pressures Impacting Men's Health:

  • 62% of working-age men who die have no interaction with healthcare providers (Banks & Baker, 2013).
  • Only 26% of men over 50 have had a PSA test for prostate cancer (Cancer Research UK, 2022).
  • "Man up" and "take it like a man" deter men from seeking medical care and sharing problems.
  • Long working hours coupled with demanding jobs create high stress levels.
  • Younger generations of men engage in risky drinking, drug use, smoking, and ignore exercise.

This stigma against men openly discussing health and seeking help starts early in life and impacts men of all ages.

Why Should We Prioritize Men's Wellbeing?

Supporting men's mental and physical health provides benefits across society. Healthier men with reduced risks of medical issues are more productive at work, live longer to support their families, and less likely to burden healthcare systems. Exercise and nutrition help men feel confident and handle daily stresses better as well.

Some wider societal impacts of improving men's health include:

  • Healthier men are 30% more productive at work (Baicker et al, 2010), boosting economies.
  • Men involved in families and communities create more stable households.
  • Lower disease rates reduce pressure on healthcare services.
  • Fitness boosts cognition helping men adjust to career changes.
  • Confident, healthy males serve as better role models for future generations.

So governments, health organizations, and communities have vested interests in helping men adopt healthy lifestyles sustainable over decades.

Men face distinctive health challenges stemming from biological, behavioral, and sociocultural factors. Testosterone and masculine norms often encourage risk-taking over responsible healthcare choices. However, the benefits of prioritizing men's fitness along with physical and mental health are far-reaching.

"Improving men's health allows men, and society as a whole, to thrive" (MHF, 2020). Supporting men at individual and collective levels to reduce stigma around vulnerability while making healthcare screenings and fitness habits part of more men's routines has demonstrated improvements. So rather than telling men to "man up," open dialogues are needed across medical systems and society focused specifically on men's wellness.

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