This year’s Men’s Health Week from 10th to 16th June focuses on key numbers in men’s health, reminding us that while many of us are good when it comes to facts and figures, there are statistics about our own health that we should really keep in mind.
Some of the key figures include 150 for the number of minutes of moderate physical activity men should aim for each week, 120/80 as the reading for normal blood pressure, and that 75 per cent of suicides are by men.
This last figure is shocking, and was quoted by the Duke of Cambridge at the recent launch of the Heads Up campaign to inspire conversations around men’s mental health.
The campaign is a collaboration between the Heads Together initiative led by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex to challenge the stigma around mental health, and The Football Association.
Its power lies in the popularity of our national sport and having high profile players open up about their own experiences relating to their mental health.
Using sport to make inroads into mental health is a fantastic idea. Having set up a sports-related charity myself, I can appreciate that physical and mental health are inextricably related.
My charity Kit Us Out was founded to tackle inequalities in the world of sport by supplying kit to athletes with a disability from developing countries. In my work I have seen how soul destroying it can be when, as a disabled athlete, you have trained so hard only to be deprived of the kit you need to compete on a level playing field.
During Mental Health Awareness Week in May, I wrote about investing in your mental health and the importance of emotional wellbeing in the workplace. Mental health is an intrinsic part of men’s health, and I don’t believe there is any way you can separate emotional and physical wellbeing.
Living healthily all the time – not just in the awareness weeks – and treating your health holistically is the key, I think. While not everyone has the luxury of having sports facilities on their doorstep, there are many ways to make adjustments in your everyday life to make it healthier and more fulfilling.
I listed a few of them in my blog post on World Health Day back in April: establishing a good sleep routine, learning to switch off the phone and taking small steps towards improving your diet.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done! It helps to make changes in increments and easing into new, healthy habits, rather than instigate a whole new regime.
Why not make it a personal challenge to make small changes for Men’s Health Week, for example going for a daily walk or making more of an effort to share your feelings – positive and negative – with loved ones?
The biggest changes start with the smallest steps, so this is the perfect opportunity to get on the path to a healthy new lifestyle.