Trying to nail down everything you need to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle is tricky. The basic principles are reasonably easy to grasp – eat healthily, exercise, get enough sleep – but once you get into the nitty-gritty, you can quickly bogged down in conflicting advice.
However, as part of Men’s Health Week 2019, the good people at the Men’s Health Forum have highlighted seven numbers that men unequivocally need to know. Some are numbers you will hopefully be familiar with already, but some could be new to you. Either way, it’s worth wising up on the reasons why these numbers are so important when trying to follow a healthy lifestyle and spotting when you might be at increased risk of health problems.
37: First up is waist size, which should be under 37in (94cm), measured just below your bellybutton. A waist size of over 37in is linked to an increased risk of common health problems like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. If your waist size is in the danger zone then check out our four-week exercise plan designed to help you shift belly fat.
150: Every week you should do 150 minutes of moderate exercise like walking or 75 minutes of vigorous activity like running. Getting out for 30 minutes of exercise five days a week is one of the smartest steps you can take to improve your physical and mental health – people who exercise regularly have a 35% lower risk of heart disease and a 50% lower risk of diabetes and bowel cancer.
5: Eat your five-a-day. You don’t have to complicate things too much when changing your diet for the healthier: just start by ensuring you eat at least five portions of fruit and veg each day. Don’t feel like you have to stop at five though – treat it as a minimum. The benefits increase the more you eat.
14: Don’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. That’s about six pints of 4% ABV beer or six small glasses (175ml) of 13% ABV wine. It’s best to spread your drinking out over the week too, rather than saving up your units for a Friday night binge. Drinking too much in the long term increases your risk of a range of health problems, can lead to weight gain and can negatively impact your mental health.
10: People who smoke cigarettes die ten years younger on average than non-smokers. Bleak, but to the point. Don’t smoke.
120/80: These are the numbers that indicate normal blood pressure. It’s worth getting yours checked by your GP, especially if you’re over 40 – and there’s also a more comprehensive free health check you’re encouraged to take. Paired with a check on your cholesterol levels, these numbers will help indicate your risk of heart disease.
75: Three-quarters of those who take their own life are men. Your mental health is as important as your physical health, and while it can be harder to work out exactly what you need to do to support your state of mind, talking about how you feel or writing it down in a diary is a great place to start.