Walk­ing the talk on men’s health

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS -

THE “I’ll be right mate” at­ti­tude that many men have needs to change if they want to im­prove their health and live longer, ac­cord­ing to can­cer sur­vivor Steve Toon.

Mr Toon en­cour­ages men to take up walk­ing with the mind­set of “walk as if you are late for a meet­ing” and they should have built up a sweat af­ter 10 min­utes.

“I like to mea­sure dis­tances and set­ting my­self lit­tle chal­lenges. You don’t go out to break records but you just want to achieve some­thing and it’s un­be­liev­able the mas­sive sense of achieve­ment you get,” he said.

He started off walk­ing 6.5 kilo­me­tres an hour and is now down to 5.5km as part of a Can­cer Coun­cil of WA pro­gram.

Mr Toon, who is the vi­cepres­i­dent of the Bel­mont RSL sub-branch, said he used to drive to his lo­cal shop about 330 me­tres away.

“I had never walked there in five years; I had al­ways gone in the car,” he said.

“But through this pro­gram I did and I thought ‘this is easy’.”

He said there were plenty of or­gan­i­sa­tions pro­vid­ing sup­port ser­vices but ul­ti­mately it was up to in­di­vid­u­als to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their health.

“It’s all up to you. You con­trol your own des­tiny but it’s just think­ing to your­self ‘I can do that’ or ‘why can’t I do that,” he said.

“If you know sup­port is out there, it isn’t re­ally that hard to make con­tact.”

Mr Toon said men’s health was an im­por­tant is­sue but did not get the pub­lic­ity or the me­dia cov­er­age that women’s health did.

“Part of it is be­cause we’re males and we’ve got this ‘I’ll be right mate’ at­ti­tude,” he said.

Men con­tinue to face poor out­comes on al­most all mea­sures of key health and well­be­ing in­di­ca­tors, ac­cord­ing to Men’s Health and Well­be­ing WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Kel­lie Lewis.

“We know that men are more vul­ner­a­ble to var­i­ous dis­or­ders at all ages across the life­span, en­gage in more health risk be­hav­iours but less helpseek­ing, and are less likely to have strong and sup­port­ive so­cial net­works,” Ms Lewis said.

“Male health out­comes are a crit­i­cal and acute health gap in WA. Whilst there is pos­i­tive work be­ing done across the com­mu­nity, we are not in­vest­ing enough re­sources into turn­ing this health epi­demic around.”

She en­cour­aged men to visit their GP to get a health check that could save their life.

“Ev­ery man can take some steps to live a longer, health­ier and hap­pier life,” she said.

“We are en­cour­ag­ing men to take a proac­tive and pre­ven­ta­tive ap­proach to their health.”

Bel­mont RSL vice-pres­i­dent Steve Toon is urg­ing men to get ac­tive and look af­ter their health.

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