Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) recently invited Virgin Pulse Science Advisory Board Member, Dr. David Batman, to be interviewed on their podcast, Straight Talk for Real Life. This podcast series explores topics like mental health, financial wellbeing, relationships and parenting to educate, break down stigma and inspire conversations about all areas of health and wellness. For this special episode, Dr. Batman joined their host Bob Peacock to discuss men’s health in honour of International Men’s Day, held annually during the month of
Why focus on men’s health?
Around the world, men are more prone to living unhealthy lifestyles and practising unsafe behaviours than their female counterparts. For example, men are more likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol excessively and eat a poor diet.* When they get behind the wheel, men are more likely to drink and drive, forgo their seatbelts, and exceed speed limits.
Unfortunately, these lifestyle choices have spelled trouble for men’s health around the world. Men are more likely than women to die from cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes or suicide. In fact, all over the globe men have a shorter life expectancy than women by about six years. In about 70% of those cases, health issues could have been prevented with simple lifestyle changes.
Why is there a gender gap in health?
During the podcast, Bob Peacock brings up this interesting conundrum. He puts forth that “many men think of themselves as self-sufficient, and while they may hate to admit it, they may not always have the answer — especially when it comes to health.” Although there are many other factors at play, preconceived notions of manliness or associating healthy foods and activities with being feminine can actually stand in the way of men living healthier lives.
Men also avoid or have a harder time accessing crucial preventive care. Globally, they are significantly less likely than women to visit the doctor. A recent study found that the top three excuses for avoiding regular checkups were being too busy, feeling afraid of discovering a health problem or being uncomfortable with certain physical exams, like a prostate check. “Whether you’re male or female shouldn’t dictate whether or not you pay attention to your health,” says Dr. Batman. “Ultimately, the same problems affect everybody — obesity, stress, addiction, and so on — there’s no reason to suffer in silence.”
How can we improve men’s health outcomes?
Bringing these issues to the surface and providing resources to educate will reduce stigma. This will help reinforce the message that it’s not just ok to eat healthy, nutritious foods, take care of yourself, see a doctor or seek help for mental health concerns — it’s a sign of strength.
Dr. Batman also offers up some advice for men who may be struggling to take the first step toward a healthier life. “You can’t change your circumstances, but you can change your attitude,” he says. “It’s also important to keep reminding yourself that this is for the future. Make small changes today, and you’ll be able to enjoy life to the fullest at every age.”
The Men’s Health episode of Straight Talk For Real Life can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or anywhere you like to get your podcasts. Join the conversation on social by using the hashtags #StraightTalkForRealLifePodcast and #HPE.
About HPE’s podcast series, Straight Talk For Real Life:
HPE’s podcast series augments its workplace wellbeing program by providing a resource that employees and their families can turn to. Each episode tackles “everyday challenges that can get in the way of experiencing life at its fullest,” with topics ranging from mental health and substance abuse to achieving your goals and reaching your potential. Straight Talk For Real Life is taking steps to reduce stigma by educating people and opening up the dialog about tough issues, and we couldn’t be more excited about the great work they’re doing. Check out their other episodes today!