Men's Health goes Premier League PDF Print E-mail
Written by Siobhan Harding   
Friday, 21 September 2012 00:00

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Research from a study of men who took part in health and fitness programmes run by Premier League Clubs has found that many men had made a significant improvement to their lifestyles. The study looked at over 4,000 men, many of whom were overweight, drank heavily, had poor diets and were not exercising enough at the start of the programme. The programme attempted to change the behaviour of the men around food, drink and exercise. Analysis of the Premier League Project by Leeds Metropolitan University showed that 7 out of 10 men had made a positive change to their behaviour, 1 in 3 had improved their diet and 40% were more active.

Liverpool Primary Care Trust works with Liverpool Football Club on a number of men’s health projects and finds that men are particularly bad at doing something about improving their health and often ignore the signs and symptoms leaving it too long to seek medical help.

While this research was based in England it corresponds with much of the research available in Northern Ireland on men’s health issues. A policy briefing paper produced by the Man Matters project Men’s Health in Northern Ireland: Tackling the Root Causes of Men’s [ill]-Health found that how men behave in relation to their health is frequently in keeping with learned masculine behaviours which often reflect society’s expectations of how they should behave. For example, studies have highlighted how men tend to avoid seeking help when they are unwell because of fear of being labelled feminine or effeminate. It has also been shown that men who engage in health damaging or risk behaviours often do so to prove their masculinity to others.

Poor lifestyles and preventable risk factors account for a high proportion of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Almost two-thirds of Northern Irish men (64%) are either overweight or obese, less than a quarter (22%) eat on average five portions of fruit or vegetables per day, while almost one in four (23%) male drinkers exceed their sensible weekly limit of 21 units.

The Man Matters project funded by the Big Lottery Fund was set up to engage men in key areas of life where they are often underrepresented and one of these areas is health. The project provides free learning opportunities for men in the form of courses, workshops, volunteering opportunities, events, seminars and conferences. Courses are provided on the main health issues affecting men including mental health and well being. Take-up for the courses has exceeded targets and shows that contrary to perceptions many men are keen to get involved in learning.

Projects such as these show that progress can be made but much more needs to be done to improve men’s health with men in Northern Ireland dying on average over four and a half years younger than women do. Man Matters is calling on Government to adopt a Men’s Health and Well-Being Policy for Northern Ireland to identify men’s health as a priority area. Man Matters also believes that a greater emphasis needs to be placed on health for boys in school, on men’s health in the workplace and to strengthen community action to support men’s health.


Pictured are Clan More Surestart who won the 2012 Surestart Cup sponsored by the Man Matters Project

Click here to read the Man Matters Policy Briefing on Tackling the Root Causes of Men's [ill]-health

Man Matters attended a Winter Planning Event for Older People in the Donegall Pass Community Centre this week. The event is the first in a series of winter planning events taking place in Belfast. The events are being organised by the community, voluntary and local Government sector and are aimed at older people including those who are vulnerable and isolated.