Men’s Health Week 2020 – Dr David Crichton

Men’s Health Week is observed each year in the lead up to Father’s Day which this year is on 21 June. The theme for 2020 is ‘Take action on COVID-19’ looking at what we can all do to prevent the virus doing more damage to ourselves and our society. In a nutshell, the key messages, whether you’re a husband, partner, dad, brother, son or friend, are:

  • Take action to avoid spreading the virus – regular handwashing, observing the social distancing rules
  • Take action to get the best out of lockdown and the ‘new normal’ – there are plenty of ideas and tips on men’s health forum website, particularly: Staying at home FAQs
  • Take action to beat ‘underlying conditions’ – aim to be as healthy as you can be.

Whilst age has shown to be an important risk factor for coronavirus, research shows that men are at a greater risk from the virus than women. Certain biological factors in men increase the risk as well as the prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and chronic lung conditions such as COPD.

Men’s health-related behaviours and beliefs could also explain why they are more susceptible. Men are generally more reluctant to seek medical advice and use health services. I would encourage anyone with a physical or mental health concern to seek help. Services are open and there are many ways you can access help: visit 111 on-line, your local practice website, speak to your pharmacist or contact your local practice and speak to someone.

Studies also show that men are also less likely to wash their hands too! This is one of the key ways to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and it’s so simple! We must all still remember to wash our hands regularly for 20 seconds using soap and water.

Men’s Health Week is a good opportunity to remind ourselves to take steps to be healthier. But you don’t have to do it alone! There are many online groups and apps that you can access for ideas and support. And why not involve the family and have fun together whilst improving your health and wellbeing?

Here are a few tips to help you be as fit, strong and healthy as you can be:

  • Eat healthily and include a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables have many vitamins and minerals that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
  • Taking regular physical activity has many benefits. It can help control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers, and it can improve your mental health and mood.
  • Stop smoking to bring immediate and long-term benefits. You lower your risk for different types of cancer and don’t expose others to second-hand smoke which causes health problems.
  • Recognise and reduce stress. Physical or emotional tensions are often signs of stress. Stress and anxiety are normal, especially during these uncertain times. It’s what we do about it that matters. Learn ways to manage stress including finding support, eating healthily, exercising regularly and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
  • Talk. As men, we often find it difficult to open up and talk about how we are feeling. But it’s so important to talk about the issues we are facing or the worries we have. Talk to family or a good friend, using technology where appropriate to enable social distancing. There are also helplines you can access if you want to speak to someone anonymously or online forums where you can speak to others who may be feeling the same.

Club Doncaster Foundation’s health and wellbeing programme, ‘Fit Rovers’, has helped thousands of men and women to improve their physical health through exercise/physical activity, healthy cooking and lifestyle advice. Their revised programme, ‘Home Goals’, is a brand new, free online campaign to provide a safe way to get active at home. Why not take a look and sign up? It’s a great way to get fit, be healthy, connect with others, share your experiences and maybe learn a new skill. All of which will also boost your mental wellbeing whilst you stay at home.

As Father’s Day approaches and we celebrate fatherhood, paternal bonds and the influence of fathers in society, it is also an opportunity to reflect on our actions and on our health – stay in the loop with messages coming out about mens health week by following #menshealthweek on Twitter.

Sources of information and help:

Finally, as always, please remember to follow the government’s latest guidelines on coronavirus to keep safe:

‘Stay Alert’
Be aware of the threat of Coronavirus and continue to keep 2 metres apart from other people.

‘Control the virus’
Keep your distance, avoid crowds of people and be careful; doing this will help to avoid a second spike of cases.

Remember also to keep washing your hands regularly for twenty seconds with soap.

By doing this, we can stay well and ‘Save Lives.’