Month: June 2021

Tackling Men’s Diabetes with Physical Activity

Tackling Men’s Diabetes with Physical Activity

One Australian is diagnosed with diabetes every five minutes, a staggering statistic that has a huge impact on our community and the health care system. Diabetes is a chronic condition in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond adequately to the insulin that is produced.

There are two main types of diabetes:

    • Type 1 diabetes, which is characterised by the autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
    • Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form and is characterised by a reduced production of insulin and an inability of the body tissues to respond fully to insulin.

As there is currently no cure for diabetes, the condition requires lifelong management.

Diabetes in Men

In 2017–18, the occurrence of diabetes was higher for males (5.0%) than females (3.8%), with the gap increasing significantly from the age of 45 onwards.

Almost 1 million Australian adults had type 2 diabetes specifically, with it more commonly found in males than females (6.1% and 4.6%, respectively). Men seem more susceptible than women to diabetes due the consequences of sedentary lifestyles and obesity, possibly due to differences in insulin sensitivity and regional fat storage.

Many factors can increase the risk for diabetes and its complications in men, including:

      • smoking
      • being overweight
      • avoiding physical activity
      • having high blood pressure or high cholesterol
      • being older than 45

Diabetes can also cause symptoms in men that are related to sexual health.

Erectile dysfunction:

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. Men with diabetes are at risk for ED. According to a review of 145 research studies, over 50% of men with diabetes experience erectile dysfunction.

Damage to the autonomic nervous system:

Diabetes can harm the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and lead to sexual problems. The ANS controls the widening or constricting of your blood vessels. If the blood vessels and nerves in the penis are injured by diabetes, ED can result.

Retrograde ejaculation:

Men with diabetes can also face retrograde ejaculation. This results in some semen being released into the bladder. Symptoms may include noticeably less semen released during ejaculation.

Urologic issues:

Urologic issues can occur in men with diabetes due to diabetic nerve damage. These include an overactive bladder, inability to control urination, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

The benefits of exercise

Exercise and keeping physically fit is a highly effective way to both prevent the onset of diabetes, as well as manage any current diabetic symptoms.

On top of the wide range of benefits that exercise provides, for men with diabetes, exercise lowers blood glucose levels and boosts the body’s sensitivity to insulin, countering insulin resistance. Exercise also improves cardiorespiratory fitness and strength, which helps insulin work more effectively.

By exercising regularly and managing your blood sugar within your exercise schedule, this can allow you to get the full benefits of a workout without feeling shaky, tired, dizzy, or anxious.

Types of exercise recommended

All forms of exercise – aerobic, resistance, or doing both (combined training) – are equally good at lowering HbA1c values (average blood glucose or sugar levels) in men with diabetes. It’s important to remember that although a combination of aerobic and resistance have the best overall effect, there may be modifications to each individual.

Aerobic exercises:

For individuals with diabetes, it is recommended to perform aerobic exercise – this includes walking, cycling, swimming or even dancing – on most days of the week, aiming for 30 minutes each session to improve your cardiorespiratory function.

      • Remember, if you’re just starting out, you may only be able to manage 10 minutes. Aim to gradually progress over a few weeks to reach the goal of 30 minutes continuously.
      • It’s also important to avoid too much walking/running if you have neuropathic symptoms, such as the gradual onset of numbness, prickling or tingling in your feet or hands, or foot ulcers.

Resistance exercises:

Resistance exercises can be performed using your body weight, light hand weights or resistance bands, various machines and free weights found in a gym setting. Moving your muscles under a greater resistance promotes an increase in muscle mass and therefore greater glucose uptake.

      • For people with diabetes, it is recommended to participate in resistance training 2-3 x per week with a range of large, functional muscle groups being used.

The best time to exercise with diabetes

The type of diabetes you have and the medication you may be using should be a consideration when deciding on the best time to exercise. If you’re taking insulin, it’s important to avoid exercise during peak insulin action as this could result in unwanted “lows”. It is also recommended to avoid exercise close to sleeping.

When you eat, your blood glucose levels go up. But remember, research has shown that if you exercise for 10 minutes immediately after eating, your blood glucose levels could be up to 5mmol/L lower than if you just sat on the couch watching TV. This is because exercise has a lasting effect; glucose continues to be removed from the blood stream by the muscles themselves (from being active) but also, ongoing training has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity.

Remember to see your doctor or accredited exercise professional prior to commencing a new exercise program to ensure your safety. As with all exercise, it’s important to avoid training if you’re unwell or if the weather is extremely hot. Be sure to start at a light intensity and gradually progress with the help of your health professional.

Check out our Men’s Health eBook

This latest eBook by Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) has been designed to encourage Australian men to become more active for their physical and mental health. It also covers the benefits of exercise for a wide range of common conditions adult men may encounter.

Get the right support

See an Accredited Exercise Physiologist: Whether you’re currently inactive, at risk of diabetes or have been diagnosed with diabetes, exercise can help. But it’s important to get the right advice. Accredited Exercise Physiologists are specially trained to understand the complexities of this condition and can help you to exercise safely with diabetes. Find one near you!

Visit your GP: Can’t remember the last time you had your blood glucose checked? Now’s the time to make an appointment with your doctor for a blood test, especially if you’re experiencing ED or other potential complications.

If diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor may also refer you to a urologist or endocrinologist to treat the effects of low testosterone which is a common result of diabetes in men.

When managing your diabetes, it’s important to complete an annual cycle of care with your GP to identify any health concerns early and discuss the best treatment with your doctor and diabetes health professionals. Your level of physical activity will be reviewed as part of your annual cycle of care.

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Written by Elise Edwards, Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Credentialed Diabetes Educator at BallyCara

The Moment That Changed My Life…


I met a woman at a party. She was drinking red wine and just as she was taking another sip I told her a joke.

She laughed so hard she spit all over me.

She was horrified. She shouted, “Oh my god!”

I had red wine all over my white button down shirt. I tried to look nice for the party (impossible for me, but I tried) so I wore a nice shirt. Now I had a red stain all down the shirt.

She kept apologizing and I kept saying it was fine because I kind of liked her.

But she left me and I kept hearing her tell stories all over the party about how she accidentally spit wine all over me.

I eventually left because I was a mess and I couldn’t tell if people were laughing at me or with me.

I told her a joke and she couldn’t control her laugh so she spit all over me.

I changed the rules. There was no polite listening. There was no orderly conversation of “what do you do?” “what’s next?” “do you like your job?”

No small talk. No tiny talk. No nano talk.

Ever since then I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

I wanted to entertain people.


James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Kampus Production.

Why More Men Should Try Yoga

Why More Men Should Try Yoga

Alright world! Let’s start with the one message we want you to take from this article…

If you think yoga is an exercise geared more towards females, you are WRONG!

Today, there are more yoga studios and classes than ever before, but still many people – particularly men – remain confused and scared about what happens inside those classes and how they feel about it.

If a guy mentions to his friends that he wants to try yoga, the chances are he’ll receive some weird looks in return. I mean it’s rare you’ll come across many men who are willing to break out in a Bharadvaja’s Twist for their group of friends. But like most common misconceptions, the weird looks stem from being uneducated.

The stigma of men and exercise

 
A lot of men are misinformed when it comes to exercise. The stigma around men and exercise has always been the “macho” look from the outset. As men, we want to be masculine and proud. We are all stereotyped into believing a gym’s purpose is to build muscle, become stronger, faster, fitter, and take mirror selfies – but we shouldn’t (especially the last one).

It’s no secret most men consider yoga or even Pilates as physical activities more suited to females – but can you blame them? It’s hard to not be influenced by social media these days, or even escape it. How many males do you see in the marketing for yoga? Not many… Until recently.

Nowadays, more men are finding the confidence to try new forms of movement, including yoga. More people are starting to choose exercises for themselves, not society. Men are beginning to realise the importance of yoga and the positive effects it has on their bodies.

What exactly is yoga?

 
Yoga is a 5,000-year-old lifestyle discipline from India, however, the yoga we commonly practice in Western culture is made up of movement, mindfulness, and breath control. Most classes include a series of poses, done either statically or dynamically, with a strong emphasis on the breath. Yoga offers the powerful benefits of movement and there’s many different styles, meaning anyone can do it, regardless of your age and fitness level.

All yoga styles can help balance your body, mind, and spirit, but they achieve it in various ways.

Some yoga styles are intense and vigorous. Others are relaxing and meditative. No matter which type you choose, yoga is a great way to stretch and strengthen your body, focus your mind, and relax your spirit.

It’s becoming a trend for everyone

 
As the world moves more towards balancing out gender gaps, we are seeing a lot more men grab a mat. Exercise is receiving a huge amount of support in the world right now, with everyone seeing the benefits it can have for people all ages, shapes, and sizes.

There hasn’t been a time where more information and research has been used to support experimenting with new forms of movement. More people are realising a gym’s purpose isn’t bicep curls, singlets, and squat racks.

Even professional athletes and teams have begun to incorporate things such as yoga and Pilates into their training program, which has been instrumental in showing the importance of other forms of physical activity for athletes.

How yoga benefits males

 
Males are commonly not as flexible as females. It can be argued that the benefits are increased for males, who generally have tighter muscle groups.

How many times have you gotten out of bed or up from your desk and thought to yourself, “wow I’m stiff as a board”? There is an easy solution to combat that and it’s yoga.

Here are a few benefits of yoga for men:

    • Increases flexibility
    • Improves balance
    • Enhance strength through range of motion
    • Injury prevention
    • Relieve chronic pain (particularly lower back)
    • Improves breathing
    • It enhances your overall health
    • It’s the ultimate stress reliever

This is what an expert had to say

 
Exercise Right thought there would be no better person to provide an insight into the benefits of yoga than Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Inform Health & Fitness Solutions, Jacinta Brinsley.

Jacinta combines her clinical exercise prescription with a holistic mind-body approach. She is currently completing a PhD exploring the benefits of mindfulness combined with movement (e.g., yoga) on mental and physical health. As such, her prescription has a strong focus on biomechanics, alignment, yoga and mental health.

We discussed with Jacinta her take on yoga and why more men should be trying it.

Why do you think more men should do yoga?

So many reasons! Firstly, from my clinical experience and popular school of thought is that men typically have less flexibility than females. Now this is partly due to hormones and skeletal structure, but greater flexibility is available to you! And why should you want greater flexibility?

Well, I assume you want to be able to tie your shoes when you’re 80 – which really depends on your hip mobility and hamstring length. More pressingly is that most of our aches and pains and sensations of tension or stress in our body are relieved when we lengthen and contract a tissue repetitively, hydrating the connective tissue, increasing blood flow to the area, and massaging things from the inside out.

Regardless of gender, if you’re a human being that has a body and experiences stress (stress presents itself in our body almost all of the time), then you should incorporate yoga or something of a  similar effect into your life.

Is there a stigma around yoga being more female dominant?

A level of stigma has definitely existed and perhaps still prevails in some places. Although nowadays we see much more even gender splits in classes. Also, there’s now more male yoga teachers on the scene, demonstrating that there’s a huge masculine side to yoga.

I think yoga’s branding in our culture has been largely based on pictures of extreme flexibility which can be very off putting for men, who are typically less flexible than females, for anatomical reasons (rarely will someone post a photo of downward dog on Instagram, it’s always a one legged, side balancing, half twist pretzel demonstration).

Quite vigorous and athletic forms of yoga have recently gained popularity which may be why we’re seeing more men in classes. Some of the peak poses in a class, such as arm balances, are much easier for men who naturally have more upper body strength than females. Women who are naturally flexible develop strength and men who are naturally strong develop flexibility.

What’s your advice for a male wanting to try yoga but is afraid to?
    • Take a friend.
    • Try a one-on-one, although that could be more intimidating.
    • Find an AEP or physio who has a yoga background.
    • Try an online class: Alo Moves ($), Yoga with Adrienne (free), try a free Lululemon class – it’s challenging for the ego, but if there’s a level 1 class, do it.

Honestly, I think the most overwhelming thing about yoga as a beginner is that all the poses have Sanskrit names and some styles of yoga don’t explain how to get into the shape, so having a slightly slower class allows you to get familiar and learn what the poses should feel like in your body.

The biggest myth ever is that you have to be flexible to do yoga! I’m going to dispel this right now. If you think you can’t touch your toes because your hamstrings are too tight, I want you to bend your knees (maybe a lot) and try again. That’s what you do in yoga!

So blokes, what are you waiting for?

 
The physiological and mental benefits of yoga have been enormous. Yoga will make you stronger and more flexible. It’s a great way to stay limber and energetic. You’ll also feel more focused and alert and it can help you feel great and function better in your daily life.

Many studios, gyms, fitness clubs or community centres also offer free trials or sessions for beginners.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to give yoga a go and look after yourself.

UNSURE WHAT NEW EXERCISE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

 
An Accredited Exercise Professional can assist you by guiding you through an individualised, safe and evidence-based exercise program to “bulletproof” your workouts. Get in touch with your local exercise expert today by clicking here.

The Nike Run Club gives you the guidance, inspiration and innovation you need to become a better athlete. Join Nike Run Club to reach your goals and have fun along the way. Download to get started. 

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Written by Exercise Right staff.

We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series.

The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.

Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.

Sorry, Your Complain Meter Is Filled For the Day!

complain meter

What if you can only complain about 3 things each day and then you lose speaking privileges – how would that change the way you go about life?


What if you could only complain about 3 things per day?

How long would you last? Would your “complain meter” be completely filled before your first cup of coffee, or before lunch, or could you hypothetically last the entire day?

This is an interesting question to ask yourself because some of us tend to complain a lot even about the littlest of things.

You get caught at a long red light while driving. You come across an opinion on social media you disagree with. A celebrity is doing something stupid somewhere. What a torturous world we live in!

When you start a conversation with certain people, it sometimes feels like their first instinct is always “What can I complain about today?”

These are the types of people who actively search for problems everywhere and never answers. They also never miss an opportunity to ask for customer service.

You have to sometimes admire their creativity in how easily they find infinite things to nitpick and complain about – it takes brain power!

Even while talking about a positive experience, certain people always find a way to add a “Yeah, but…” to it. “That was a fun movie, but I really don’t like that one actor!” or “That was a good meal, but I’ve had better!”

The complainer is the ultimate comparer. When you always compare everything to everything – instead of enjoying what is offered to you in the moment – you’ll always find ways to be dissatisfied with your experiences.

Of course, nothing is perfect. There is always something you can potentially complain about – the question is what is actually worth complaining about. The bigger problem is when this negativity becomes addictive and it becomes a person’s default mode.

Perhaps being able to point at problems gives some people a sense of meaning, purpose, and being alive. “I must be alive, because look at all this crap I have to deal with! The world sucks!”

What if after you filled your complain meter for the day, you lost all speaking privileges? How would that change the way you go about life?

Perhaps in some sci-fi dystopian universe they would plant a chip into people’s brains that shuts off their speaking functions once they’ve filled their complain meter. (I don’t actually think this would be a good idea, but it is an interesting thought experiment).

That would incentive you to be way more mindful of how you speak throughout the day – you wouldn’t want to just waste your 3 complaints on silly and frivolous things. Perhaps you could save your complaints for the very end of the day, so you know you’ll be griping about the very worst ones.

Maybe by the end of the day you’ll even think, “You know what? I really don’t have much to complain about at all.”

Nothing is as important as it is when it’s happening to you in the moment. By the end of a long day, that coffee you spilled on your shirt in the morning isn’t really that noteworthy in the grand scheme of things. By tomorrow morning, you’ll have completely forgotten about it; never underestimate the power of sleeping it off to put things back into perspective.

Life is hard for everyone. I’m not going to pretend that everything in life is perfect and jolly, or that all problems are the equivalent of “spilling a drink on yourself.” People go through real shit and it’s important they have at least one person in their lives they can be radically honest with.

However, we have to choose our battles wisely and recognize when to talk about our problems vs. when it’s best to just “let it go” and not give it any extra attention it doesn’t deserve.

One rule of thumb I try to keep in mind when it comes to all social interaction is the “positivity ratio.” The positivity ratio is a theory put forward by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson that suggests a good balance between positive and negative emotions is 3:1.

In general for every negative thought you express, you should try to balance it out with several positive ones.

For example:

  • In conversation, start off with some compliments, good news, or positive information before diving into something negative or critical.
  • On social media, try to share a few pieces of uplifting, fun, or humorous posts for every one piece of critical thinking or negative news.
  • When providing feedback to someone, always start with a bit of praise, then give your constructive feedback, then finish with more praise (this is often known as the “compliment sandwich”).
  • In your mind, try to cultivate mental habits such as reflecting on a strength, past accomplishment, or something you’re grateful for, for every negative thought or self-criticism.

The key idea is not that we should avoid or suppress negative emotions (which serve a useful purpose in our lives), but that we should generally try to lean more toward the positive in everything we do.

This is true for all types of social interactions but it’s something we should especially consider when using the internet and social media, since the online disinhibition effect tends to bring out the worst in us when it comes to online behavior. No one is their “best self” on Facebook or Twitter.

So let’s play a game: how long can you go today before you fill up your complain meter?


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