In Major League Baseball, going 0 for 5 on a regular basis gets you sent to the minors. Going 2 for 5, however, makes you a multi-millionaire. But when we replace those five plate appearances with five unhealthy habits, the outcomes reverse and the stakes suddenly get much, much higher.
According to a recent survey by the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, 72 percent of Canadian guys regularly demonstrate two or more unhealthy habits out of a list of five red flags: Sixty-two percent have an unhealthy diet, 54 percent sleep too little (or too much), 49 percent don’t get enough exercise, 39 percent drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol, and 20 percent smoke cigarettes. What are unhealthy lifestyle habits? Those five are the big ones, as a recent Harvard study also suggests.
Before you can find out where your habits fit into these health stats, the five unhealthy factors needs to be defined. For example: What kind of diet is unhealthy? How much alcohol is too much? Here’s how the five unhealthy behaviours break down according to the survey:
- Unhealthy eating: Consuming foods that are high in salt, refined sugar, or saturated fats more than once a week is unhealthy. Eating less than five fruit and vegetable servings in a day is also unhealthy.
- Alcohol consumption: Anything more than 3 drinks per day 5 days a week, or more than 6 drinks in one sitting, is considered unhealthy.
- Lack of exercise: Less than 150 minutes of moderate-to-strenuous exercise per week is unhealthy.
- Poor sleep: 7-9 hours is the sweet spot. Any more or less than this is unhealthy.
- Smoking: Any amount of smoking is bad for you.
If none of these unhealthy behaviours are part of your life, then the study says you are “very healthy.” Well done! Trouble is, only 6 percent of guys actually fit that description. Those that have one unhealthy habit are deemed “healthy” and account for 22 percent of the total, while the two-habit “borderline” crowd makes up 31 percent. The largest group, 42 percent of respondents, exhibits three or more unhealthy behaviours and are considered “unhealthy.”
The big benefit of healthier living
The findings of the health survey were very similar to those of the aforementioned study out of Harvard University. By using lifestyle questionnaires and medical records from 123,000 American volunteers, researchers identified five behaviours that together contribute to longer life expectancy: Following a healthy diet, controlling body weight, doing regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation, and not smoking.
Sound familiar? The long-term study then went on to compare the life expectancy of volunteers who did none of the healthy things with men who did all five. The healthy guys came up big, with their life expectancy at age 50 jumping by 12 years (from 76 to 88). This five-healthy-behaviours crew was also 65 percent less likely to die of cancer, and 82 percent less likely to die of heart disease.
The takeaway here: Live healthier and you’ll live longer! This is blog for a wealth of easy tips to help you achieve these healthy habits.
Another great health resource
The Men’s Maintenance Guide ebook provides a straightforward, common sense health-maintenance checklist based on your age. If you’re 20 to 39, for instance, you should have your blood pressure checked every two years. Guys aged 40-54, meanwhile, should start having their prostate health checked every two years. For more tips on what to check and when to check it, download The Men’s Maintenance Guide for free today!
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Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. He’s been covering men’s health for over 20 years. As well as researching and blogging for Don’t Change Much since 2015, Adam’s award-winning work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and National Post newspapers.