The Fourth Pillar of Men’s Health: Physical Inactivity
Movember is a global movement focused on men’s health. There are four pillars of men’s health that Movember shines a spotlight on:
- Prostate Cancer
- Testicular Cancer
- Poor Mental Health
- Physical Inactivity
In this article, we focus on the fourth of those pillars. We will see, however, that all four pillars are interconnected.
Movember Pillars Overview
The Movember fundraisers have become a major world event since their inception in Australia in 2003. They have raised more than $650 million and funded more than a thousand programs to do with men’s health.
Originally, Movember was focused on the issue of prostate cancer. Over the years, the scope was broadened to cover the following:
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Every single day, about 130 men are diagnosed with it, with one dying every forty-five minutes. The main things that a man can do to lessen his chances of getting prostate cancer is to maintain a healthy weight, eat a low sugar, high fiber, and vegetable diet, and get regular prostate health checks.
The Movember movement promotes awareness and knowledge of the issues surrounding this deadly disease.
Movember funding is being used to support a project designed to gain an understanding of the biology of relapse in testicular cancer patients. This will help researchers identify why some men with early stage testicular cancer relapse while others do not.
Poor Mental Health
Poor mental health is a pervasive, but largely silent, problem among men. Movember fundraising resources go toward supporting the development and implementation of strategies and technologies to improve social connections and feelings of belonging among men. A special focus is on those who are at risk of becoming socially isolated.
The fourth pillar of the Movember program is a relatively new addition. The focus here is on promoting increased physical activity in men. The challenge is for every man to get physically active for each of the thirty days of November, with the goal of adopting physical exercise as a lifestyle habit.
Consequences of an Inactive Lifestyle
Our bodies were designed for movement. The benefits of physical activity are huge, including improved mental wellbeing and physical strength. When we follow a sedentary, inactive lifestyle, it’s not surprising that we suffer negative health effects. Here are three of them:
The fewer calories you burn off, the likelier you are to store excess energy on your body in the form of fat. Weight gain or loss is fundamentally a matter of caloric balance. Sedentary people tend to have a higher caloric intake which makes it more likely that they will consume more calories than they need each day. Then, because they are not exercising, they will not be able to burn off the excess, leading to weight gain.
Loss of Muscle and Bone Strength
Inactive people are not using their muscles as much as they should be. Muscle inactivity leads to weakness and atrophy, where the muscle gets smaller. That will make it harder to do everyday activities and also make you more susceptible to injury.
People who are physically inactive are more likely to suffer from poor cardiovascular health. Lack of movement contributes to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and endothelial dysfunction. Each of these are contributing factors of cardiovascular disease.
What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular disease is an encompassing term that includes heart attack, stroke, and coronary artery disease. It is a leading cause of death among men across the world. The number one cause of cardiac disease is atherosclerosis, where plaque builds up in the arteries.
What is Physical Inactivity?
According to the American Heart Association, adults should get thirty to sixty minutes of physical activity three to four times each week in order to promote cardiovascular fitness. Those who do not achieve this on a regular basis are considered to be physically inactive.
Being physically active doesn’t mean that you have to do vigorous exercise every day. It is fine to participate in moderate exercise such as brisk walking, going for a bike ride, or playing a game of tennis.
Depression and Anxiety
There is a link between depression, anxiety, and lack of physical activity. People who are suffering from mental health problems will find it more difficult to motivate themselves to get off the couch and do some exercise. Here are four ways you can motivate yourself to exercise when you don’t even feel like getting out of bed.
Just Do it
If you wait until you get the urge to move, you’ll probably die of inactivity. So, rather than waiting for motivation, write down a weekly schedule of exercise. When the time rolls around, just get up and do it. Don’t even think about it, and don’t worry if you’re not giving it your all. Just get moving!
Don’t think that you have to run five miles on your very first exercise session. Depending on where you’re starting from, you might simply walk around the block. The key to getting fitter is not starting big — it is making small progressions.
Find a buddy to do your workouts alongside you. That way you will be able to feed off each other. And knowing that someone is waiting for you will probably give you that extra little push to get out the door.
Set exercise goals, both in terms of regularity of sessions and progression within the workout. When you achieve a goal, provide yourself a meaningful reward. Just make sure that the reward is keeping with your goals. So, watching your favorite Netflix show is a better reward than a blueberry muffin.
Make use of the extra energy generated by Movember to get started on a physical activity program. Start small, and set goals to make regular progressions. Getting into a regular exercise habit is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of prostate and testicular cancer.
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