Men's Health Week 2010

This year, Men's Health Week (MHW) ran from Monday 14th June until Sunday 20th June 2010.  The theme was "Men and Physical Activity", and the Men's Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI) called upon all men and boys on our island to respond to the challenge to: "Get Up. Get Out. Get Going!" 

The World Health Organisation reckons that physical inactivity is an independent risk factor for chronic diseases, and is estimated to cause 1.9 million deaths globally.  Thus, regular physical activity is the key to getting healthy and to staying healthy.

Despite this, studies (such as SLÁN - the national Survey of Lifestyles, Attitudes and Nutrition) show that few Irish people take part in regular physical activity.  Indeed, most of us only associate physical activity with going to the gym or running a marathon - things that many of us feel aren’t appealing to ‘normal people’.  It is easy to forget that physical activity can also relate to the things we do in our everyday lives. 

Please use the links below to find out more about the need for men and boys to engage in physical activity; how they could do this; see some examples of what happened around the country; read the evaluation report on MHFI's activities during this week ...

Men's Health Forum in Ireland Press Release for Men's Health Week 2010 (Word Document)

External Evaluation Report on Men's Health Week 2010 (PDF 1.5MB)

Photographs of the "Get Up. Get Out. Get Going!" Challenge event, at Ardgillan Castle, are now available online on the Balbriggan Community Information Website


Times have changed for Irish Men
Past generations of Irish men didn’t (for the most part) have to worry about ‘artificial exercise’ such as treadmills and lifting weights - their daily routines were full of walking, lifting, digging, bending, chopping, stretching, hauling … 
This was particularly true for men in manual occupations.

However, nowadays, many of us have less active jobs, we use the car to go to the corner shop, and we spend our days marveling at our new technology rather than the great outdoors.

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How active are people in Ireland?
Adults begin to experience health benefits when they do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity such as brisk walking.  This, therefore, requires an average of 30 minutes of activity on five days a week.  Children and young people need at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity on each of these days.

Amazingly, the SLÁN findings in 2007 show that only 41% of Irish adults took part in moderate or strenuous physical activity for at least 20 minutes three or more times a week.  A 2006 survey on Health Behaviours in School Children also revealed that over half of primary school age children did not achieve the recommended level of physical activity.  Indeed, by fifteen years of age, almost seven out of ten boys don’t reach the recommended level.

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How can physical activity benefit health?
Physical activity can benefit every aspect of your health. 
It has been shown that regular exercise reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis and depression.  It reduces stress, improves sleeping patterns, builds-up bone and muscle strength, helps to control weight, tones body shape …

In Britain, NHS Choices point out that even a little activity can cut the risk of premature death by 20% to 30%.  Put another way, physical activity is the ultimate natural treatment for many modern day illnesses and complaints. But most importantly, it’s free.

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What kinds of physical activity are beneficial?
The sky's the limit in terms of what you might do …

  • Walk to the bus or the train, and jump off a stop or two before your destination.
  • Use the stairs rather than the lift.
  • Join your mates for a walk, run or cycle and a bit of craic.
  • Wash your car by hand every week.
  • Play active games with your children.
  • Take the dog for a walk.
  • Cut the grass and dig-over the flower beds.
  • Play interactive movement-based computer games.
  • Park the car further away from your destination and walk the last part of the route.
  • Organise a friendly game of soccer, Gaelic, rugby, hurling or similar with your friends.
  • Go for a swim …

Start by choosing an activity that you enjoy, take it slowly at first, and you might also want to set yourself goals to measure progress (an activity diary might help you to chart your success).  However, if you have a diagnosed chronic condition (such as diabetes, heart disease, or osteo-arthritis), or if you have symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness or joint pain, talk to your doctor before you increase your activity levels.  It’s easy to find something that will suit, but you’ll have to make time for it.

As a rule of thumb, remember that …

  • Some physical activity is always better than none.
  • A lot of physical activity is always better than some.
  • Everything you do will have some health benefits.

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What can I do to mark this week?
Everyone can do something to support and celebrate Men’s Health Week (MHW).

The theme for this year (i.e. Physical Activity) lends itself to a wide range of ways to mark this occasion.  However, you don’t have to stick rigidly to this particular topic.  Anything which encourages men and boys to lead healthier lifestyles, to be more aware of preventable health problems, and to seek early detection and treatment for health difficulties will be welcome!

Some of the easiest ways that you can support MHW include:

  • Promoting it on your website.
  • Linking to the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI) website from your Facebook or other social networking site.
  • Including information on MHW in your members’ mailouts / newsletters.
  • Putting-up posters in your workplace / community centre / shops etc.
  • Telling others about what is happening in your area during MHW by posting details on the MHFI website.
  • Encouraging the men you know to participate in an online training programme to help them to get fit enough for a 10km run. This resource was launched by MHFI during MHW 2010.

However, if you’re a ...

HEALTH SERVICE PROVIDER why not produce a men’s health leaflet, or offer men’s health (MOT / NCT) checks, or run a men’s health campaign in your area, or consult with local men about what services they need, or give free pedometers to men ...?

COMMUNITY / VOLUNTARY GROUP why not get the men in your community to join your own version of the World Cup, or start a walking group, or host a “Mini-Olympics” fun day for all the family, or organise a healthy eating cookery class, or form a men’s health group, or launch a men’s swimming / cycling club, or get your local leisure centre / gym to offer a free pass to men during MHW, or ...?

SPORTING BODY why not use your unique position (as many men like sport already) to give out men’s health information at games, or get local men to join-in training sessions, or ask your best known player to give a men’s health talk, or develop forms of your game which older men can participate in, or ...?

LOCAL POLITICIAN / POLICY MAKER why not table a debate on men’s health in the Northern Ireland Assembly / Dáil Éireann / local council chamber, or set-up an inter-party group on men’s health, or host a men’s health seminar in your constituency, or develop a party policy on men’s health, or look at how elements of the Men’s Health Policy in the Republic of Ireland could be introduced to Northern Ireland, or explore the extent of inequalities in health ...?

EMPLOYER why not organise health checks for men in your workplace, or set-up a regular game of football before / after work, or invite speakers to come in and give talks on specific aspects of men’s health, or produce your own workplace guide to men’s health, or ...?

SERVICE PROVIDER why not display men’s health information in your public spaces, or direct your service users to men’s health programmes, or provide a room and administrative support for a local men’s health initiative, or ...?

MEDIA PERSON why not cover MHW 2010 in your publication, or research and produce an in-depth special feature on a specific men’s health issue, or promote the work of a local men’s health project, or run a series of features on men’s health during MHW 2010, or ...?

WOMAN why not encourage the man / men in your life (partner, father, brother, uncle, grandfather, neighbour, friend etc.) to take part in one of the MHW events, or to see their GP about that niggling health concern, or to join a men’s health group, or ...?

MAN why not “Get Up. Get Out. Get Going” and feel the difference!!!

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Some useful links and resources

Cycle NI - cycle routes in Northern Ireland for all abilities

Eurobarometer report on sport and physical activity (PDF, 7.1MB)

Exercise and Eating for Health - leaflet from the Ulster Cancer Foundation (PDF, 1.2MB)

Get Active Your Way - practical advice on how to get active (PDF, 1MB)

Get a Life, Get Active - information, motivation and tips to increase your level of physical activity

Get Ireland Active website

Go for Life - older people in sport and physical activity

Health Facts for Men (Publisher 2007 format, 1.2MB) - leaflet on key things that men need to know.  Also available as a Word document (850KB)

Irish Cancer Society - health information and advice for men

Irish Heart Foundation - information on why we need to get active and how

Irish Trails - trails and walking routes in Ireland

Little Steps - suggestions for little steps to becoming more active

Men and Physical Activity - factsheet giving key statistics in Ireland (PDF, 88KB)

The National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland

Outdoor NI - guide to outdoor activities in Northern Ireland

Public Health Agency - range of publications on physical activity

Walk NI - walking routes in Northern Ireland for both the serious rambler and short strollers


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