How to Be a Healthier Man
Jerome Kaino, Murray Crane and more discuss the importance of health and wellbeing today
One in eight New Zealand men experience serious depression. Testicular cancer kills more 18-39-year-old New Zealand men than any other disease. New Zealand men also live an average four years less than women. Six out of 10 New Zealand males are overweight.
These are alarming statistics but in a culture that perpetuates a "she'll be right" attitude, awareness around being proactive about health and well-being among men is essential. That conversation is being had this Men’s Health Week, with New Zealand men encouraged to visit the official website to take a survey to find out where they rate on the health scale (I scored 56). Men can also visit any Life or Unichem pharmacy to get a free Men’s Health Pit Stop check throughout the month of June.
To mark the week, we've asked some well-known faces to share their take on physical and mental health: today, All Blacks and Blues flanker Jerome Kaino, Murray Crane of Crane Brothers, Jonny Calder, sales manager for Coffee Supreme, Markantonia furniture designer Mark Seeney, and pro surfer Luke Cederman. Look for more tomorrow.
What advice can you give to men about being proactive about their health and wellbeing?
Jerome Kaino: Planning! We all live busy lives with work, families and friends, so I believe it is really important to be proactive in making time in your day for yourself. Sit down and make a weekly plan about where you can fit in time to exercise, and also plan your weekly meals. Go to the supermarket on a weekend and buy ingredients for at least three really healthy meals so you can get home from a busy day and everything is there to cook.
Murray Crane: I would say I am passive rather than proactive. For me, it’s probably about not being too bad rather than intentionally being good. I have the best intentions when it comes to exercise and sugar intake.
Mark Seeney: Don’t be ashamed of, or disregard, a concern you may have, whether mental or physical, visit a professional or at least talk to a friend. Nine times out of 10 you’ll be fine but the worry, let alone the symptoms, if left alone can make a bad situation worse.
Jonny Calder: Having children has helped emphasise to me the importance of good health. Being aware of what you’re feeding your children is suddenly essential and has led to me being proactive about what I put into my body. Eating well directly leads to me feeling well. Also, looking into more natural remedies for health issues or just staying healthy. Finding great health advice. Our GP always gives advice on modern and alternative treatments which have proved to be really beneficial.
Luke Cederman: Do the things that make you happy. I've been to the gym twice in my life because I find it boring, it's no fun to me. I don't want to do something that bores me, so I don't. I surf, I play basketball, netball, bodysurf, throw a rugby ball around, anything that also stimulates the mind as well as the body. Just have fun! Food wise, everything in moderation and plenty of water.
The suicide rate for men is three times that of women. What are your thoughts on this and how can men better look after not only their physical health but also their mental wellbeing?
Jerome Kaino: Oh wow - I didn’t realise that. That’s pretty scary stuff. Something I have been really working on lately is gratitude. Reflect everyday on things that make you happy, make you feel positive, and be grateful for the things around you and how they make you feel - even if it is just the smallest thing. Being grateful for things in my life goes a long way in making me feel strong mentally. Also, don’t sweat the small stuff, try and put things in perspective when you are feeling a bit frustrated. And of course, keep active - as we all know, physical activity has a lot to say for good mental health.
Murray Crane: Any loss of life is tragic. Nothing is as bad as it seems. If I could give one piece of advice; know who your friends are; you only need one person to always be there for you.
Mark Seeney: Both genders face severe emotional difficulties but that ratio highlights the fact that more needs to be done in terms of male mental health. I’m sure being active and eating well are beneficial for mental and physical wellbeing. However, sometimes it involves a bit of emotional awareness, accepting you are going through something and may need to talk to someone can be a lot harder than simply going for a run or ordering a side of salad with your burger.
Jonny Calder: I think naturally men aren’t good at putting time aside to think about their life and acknowledge what’s going on. I know I’m not. Teamed with often not being the best communicators and not asking for help makes it hard to step back and gain control over things. It’s something I find I consciously have to do, put the time aside.
Luke Cederman: Share your problems and never be afraid to tell someone what's on your mind, you never know who might've been in the same situation that could have invaluable advice, or at least relate to what you're going through. A lot of guys are hesitant to become vulnerable and share what's really on their mind. Just talk to someone, anyone, or get a cat. Cats are great to hang out with if you're feeling down.
What are you doing at the moment to better take care of your health?
Jerome Kaino: Well I know my body really well, so any little niggles, or if I feel something just isn’t quite right, I always go to the team doctor or a health professional to check it out. Most of the time it is nothing, but it is really important for me to have that peace of mind, especially for my profession as a rugby player, so that it doesn’t turn into something more serious. Aside from that, I make time and am very proactive about getting good nutrition and physical activity into my life. I don’t really take any vitamins or anything; I ensure I get what I need to make my body tick out of good food and exercise.
Murray Crane: I gave up cigarettes a decade ago, don’t drink excessively and avoid coffee and recently white bread. My partner, Melanie, is obsessed with healthy living so I have definitely been caught up in her slipstream.
Mark Seeney: My design-based work is predominantly computer-based so I’m quite aware of the need to stay active and mobile to compensate. I try to do the majority of my design work at a standing desk. I do yoga most mornings and try to get out at least three evenings a week to our local park where I do a few jogging laps and some sprints, plus a few pull-ups if I’m up to it.
Jonny Calder: Making sure my diet is wholesome and well-balanced really helps me operate well at work. Being pretty sleep deprived with two young boys, if I default to eating lots of bread for instance my energy levels crash. We also went completely sugar free for a while which was really effective and eye opening. I’m conscious not to set myself up for failure and, as someone who loves food, want to be able to smash that cream doughnut every now and then. I get out on my bicycle in the forest once a week. It’s my main fitness and equally important for my mental health.
Luke Cederman: I think about drinking less, I think about stretching more frequently, and I think about eating better food. I'm not actually doing any of these things, but these thoughts alone make me feel better about myself and make me feel a lot healthier. I'm not even kidding - I believe myself to be healthy person, therefore I am. Also increasing my weekly sporting activities helps.