SA men better start exercising or face grim prognosis

A South African pharmaceutical company specialising in men’s health has challenged men to get more active instead of succumbing to debilitating diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, a stroke, diabetes and cancer.

Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics, said while some men in Mzansi made exercise a part of their daily lives, almost a third did not.

“The typical modern lifestyle that many men lead, which involves spending eight hours in front of a computer, another two to three hours in traffic and a few more hours in front of the television, is proving fatal. Life expectancy drops significantly, and some researchers have even claimed it being worse than smoking and other risk factors combined”.

According to a study of 122 000 participants, conducted by cardiologists at Cleveland Clinic, USA, doctors found the risk of death rose substantially among those that led a sedentary lifestyle compared to regular exercisers.

“Men who think they are too old to gain anything by exercising should think twice,” said Jennings.

“Many studies have shown that exercise improves the muscle strength, balance, cardio fitness, metabolism, glucose tolerance and psychological health of the elderly, even those in their 80s. Men who are more active have lower rates of prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and strokes and are less likely to experience high blood pressure, depression and erection problems. In addition, exercise could also decrease the risk of dementia.

“In recent years, we have been very effective at eliminating exercise from our modern-day lives, but the trouble is our bodies are designed for physical activity and can’t function optimally without it. Studies have shown that an hour of moderate daily exercise wipes out the negative impacts of sedentary living, which can easily be achieved if some adjustments are made.

“It’s best to combine a variety of cardiovascular exercises, such as brisk walking, running or cycling with strength-training using either weights or your own body weight. Other ways men can become more active include:

• Standing rather than sitting when taking public transport

• Walking to work or the shops when needing a few groceries

• Going for a walk during lunch breaks

• Standing up every half an hour when working at a desk

• Spending more time doing chores around the house instead of watching TV – your significant other will love you for it!

• Taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator

• Walking around while taking phone calls on your cellphone

Jennings reminded men that cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer affected hundreds of thousands of men in South Africa and remained among the most expensive diseases to treat.

“Instead of paying large sums to treat these diseases, men should be doing more from a prevention point of view as many of these diseases can be curbed by implementing a healthy lifestyle. Considering the overwhelming amount of clinical evidence, exercise should be prescribed by doctors as a rule of thumb to reduce the risk of developing these illnesses.

“Daily movement is a key component to good health. There is no better time to start than the present.”