Let’s face it bafethu, even though the life expectancy gap between men and women has narrowed, the girlies are projected to outlive men by five years. Men tend to die younger and more often from ailments including heart disease, cancer, stroke and unintentional injuries.
This is according to Dr Abdul Sungay from the Metro Men’s Health Centre in Cape Town. Sungay encourages every man who is coming of age to take care of their health and support each other to lead healthy lives.
“Young boys should be encouraged to lead a healthy lifestyle by their caregivers. We should teach and show our boys how to respect each other and especially all girls and women. With a growing number of gender-based violence cases in South Africa, the place to start is with young men and teaching them the importance of respect. It is equally important that we teach young men how to care for their health to protect their futures.”
Four tips for healthy living
Adopting healthy habits when you’re a boy can add years to your life. Whether you’re 13 or 50, Sungay and mental health practitioner Marcus Frieslaar share tips to help you make healthy choices:
Take care of your mental health:
Mental health is important for all boys and men. Frieslaar says it’s important for boys and men to acknowledge their feelings.
Society puts pressure on boys and men to believe that they cannot be vulnerable or seek support.
“It’s important that we protect all boys as they are the men of tomorrow. It is also important that parents and caregivers are mindful of their boys’ mental health,” he says.
“It’s okay to seek help to ensure you don’t collapse or burn out. If you take care of your mental health, you can take care of the things that matter to you, whether it’s school, your career or family interests.”
Talk to your children
It is also important to talk to your children every day, especially if you detect any changes in their behaviour.
“Try not to scare your boys when you talk to them. You want them to feel safe and to trust you. It’s important to listen when they speak, hear them out. Pay attention to their behaviour in different settings. This can help you to detect if, for instance, perhaps your child is experiencing bullying.”
Get active bro
You don’t have to go to gym or own a treadmill to take care of your physical health. You can make physical activity part of your boys’ daily routines. Sungay says that children who are five and older can participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Men aged 18 and older should do at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. This can increase your energy, help you to sleep better and reduce your risk for developing illnesses.
“It is important to make time to exercise daily. This reduces your risk of developing lifestyle diseases and can help you to maintain your health,” shares Sungay.
Keep your plate lean and clean
Healthy eating is critical as boys develop and grow into men. Boys and men should have a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, a variety of protein foods, and low-fat dairy products. Do your best to avoid junk foods and fizzy drinks.
Sungay says men should not take their health for granted. “Eating healthy food is critical. It’s always taken for granted until one has a chronic illness such as diabetes.”
Healthy food doesn’t need to be expensive. It is important to include foods that are high in fibre in your diet. Foods to include daily are foods that are unrefined such as whole grains, like oats and lentils, a variety of vegetables, lean meat or beans, limited amounts of starch and starchy vegetables, and fruit.
Visit your clinic or local doctor
It’s important to seek help if you are ill. Sungay says warning signs that you need urgent help with includes: “Feeling short of breath, reduced effort tolerance, slurred speech or a sudden weakness in arms and legs.”
If you are living with a chronic condition, you must take your medication every day and do your best not to miss your clinic appointments, Sungay adds. If you have missed any appointments, visit your clinic as soon as possible.
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