Man's health week

Healthy habits for a longer life: Why more men need to take charge of their wellbeing

Monday , 12 June 2023 by Sherryl Arneil

As Men’s Health Week shines a spotlight on how men’s wellbeing, the Southern Cross Healthy Futures Report offers a snapshot of where men are taking action with their health – and the areas they still need to work on.

The biennial study takes a comprehensive look at New Zealanders’ health and wellbeing and offers insights into how people respond to health issues and how they’re working to prevent them.

It found men are more proactive than women in immediately seeking medical treatment if they feel unwell enough to need it – 16 per cent of men said they would see a health professional straight away, compared to 11 per cent of women. Another 50 per cent of men said they would seek treatment within a day or two.

The Healthy Futures Report also found a reasonably high number of men (42 per cent) are seeking preventative treatment, such as regular check-ups with blood tests, and cholesterol and blood pressure checks. Another 25 per cent of men are considering getting this preventative care.

However, the report shows men still have some work to do when it comes to adopting healthier habits.

Just 31 per cent of men said they’re already trying to improve their diet compared to 41 per cent of women, while 30 per cent of men are prioritising exercise compared to 35 per cent of women.

Just over a third of men (34 per cent) are prioritising sleep compared to 41 per cent of women, with 27 per cent of men working to reduce their stress, compared to 31 per cent of women.

The study also found just 25 per cent of men are setting health or fitness goals.

Associate Professor Matthew Clark, Chief Medical Officer of Southern Cross Healthcare, said Men’s Health Week is a good time to focus on a few of those goals or healthy habits for the year ahead.

“Statistics show men still don’t live as long as women on average and are more likely to die of a heart attack or get diabetes than women,” he said.

“For Men’s Health Week, we want the men of Aotearoa New Zealand to learn more about their health and think about some small steps they can take to improve their overall wellbeing. Small, consistent changes really can make a big difference.

“By focusing more on the health habits within their control, like eating better, moving a little more, and making sleep a priority, men can help prevent many chronic diseases that can affect their quality – and quantity – of life.”

Clark said this focus on healthier habits and an improved quality of life affects men’s loved ones, too.

“By prioritising their health, men can show their partners, children, and friends that they care about them and themselves,” he said.

“Our health is our most valuable asset, and we want more men to live a long, happy, and healthy life with the people they love.”