Men’s Health Week was June 12th – 18th but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to prioritize our wellness gentlemen. We often focus on our physical health for optics, external validation and more. But it can come at the cost of our mental health. So let’s take a look at how physical exercise can be used to improve men’s mental health.
See Also: 3 tips for emotional mastery
Boyhood to Manhood
From boyhood, men are told to be brave and ambitious. As they grow older, they strive to become good fathers, partners, and providers. Alongside this, men have often been characterized as being the physically stronger sex. So the modern image of what it means to be “a man” often means that men fall short of attaining the mainstream ideal. This often can slip into feelings of anxiety and depression. It is this nature of unhealthy expectations that can affect men’s mental health.
DID YOU KNOW: The latest figures showed that 4500 people die by suicide in Canada per year. 75% of those deaths are male. Also, men are three times as likely as women to become dependent on alcohol and drugs according to Statistics Canada.
Lee Hawker-Lecesne MBPsS, is the Clinical Director at The Cabin. He is encouraging men to make time to look after their mental health by taking time to boost their physical health. Equally important, he believes by making lifestyle changes, men can combat anxiety and depression which will enhance their health and quality of life.
Lee notes, “physical fitness is crucial for men’s mental health because the mind and body are interconnected. Engaging in regular exercise can have a positive impact on mental well-being and contribute to a healthier state of mind”.
Why physical fitness is important for men’s mental health
Stress reduction: Exercise helps reduce the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol while increasing the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters.
Mood enhancement: Physical activity stimulates the production of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters associated with improved mood and well-being. Regular exercise can help combat feelings of depression and enhance mental resilience.
Increased self-esteem: Engaging in physical fitness and achieving fitness goals can boost self-confidence and self-esteem. The sense of accomplishment and improved body image can impact mental well-being.
Better sleep: Regular exercise promotes better sleep quality and duration, which is vital for mental health. Adequate rest helps regulate mood and improves concentration and mental clarity.
Improved cognitive function: Exercise enhances cognitive function, including improved memory, attention span, and problem-solving abilities. Regular physical activity supports brain health and can reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
In addition, one hour of exercise of moderate intensity for 4 days a week, is enough to see these health benefits. Moreover, these 60 minutes need not be continuous; three 20-minute fitness sessions can be as useful as one 60-minute individual session. So whether it be yoga, resistance training, hiking, etc, exercise is very important to mental health.