Men's health - do you know your numbers?

We take a closer look at the unique health needs of men through seven numbers.

Do you know how many minutes of exercise you should do a week or what a healthy waist size is for a man? We look at seven numbers every man should know for the good of their health. 

1) Men should have a waist size below 37 inches

A larger waist size puts men at increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. This is because your risk of certain health problems is affected, not only by your overall body weight but also the area in which your body stores fat. If your waist size is above 37 inches, a healthy and balanced diet, which cuts back on high-calorie foods, can help to keep your waist size down.

Apart from measuring your waist, there are several other indicators which can give you more information about your diabetes risk. A Diabetes (HbA1c) Blood Test can help you to assess how well your body is controlling glucose (sugar). This may give you an early indication that you are developing prediabetes or diabetes. Assessing your risk is the first step towards making lifestyle changes to prevent the development of diabetes.

How to take your waist measurement:

  1. Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips

  2. Wrap a tape measure around your waist, midway between these points

  3. Breathe out naturally before taking a measurement [1]

2) Men should do 150 minutes of physical activity a week

This exercise should be moderate, which means that a brisk walk, cycle, or mowing the lawn all counts! However, 41% of men in high-income countries do not exercise enough [2]. This is surprising considering that exercise has countless benefits to both the mind and body, including a lower risk of diabetes, stroke and depression.

If you are interested in revealing the impact of regular exercise on your health, Medichecks offers many different fitness blood tests, including a Fitness Blood Test. This test tracks 16 different health markers along your fitness journey (including cholesterol, testosterone and muscle health).

3) 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lives

The prostate is a gland that sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra. Prostate cancer develops when cells start to grow in an uncontrolled way [9]. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK [9].

Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • An increased need to pee
  • Straining when peeing
  • A feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied [3]

Not everybody with prostate cancer will develop symptoms. Certain groups are at increased risk of getting prostate cancer, such as those being older (over 50 years old), those with a family history of prostate cancer and people of black ethnicity. If you have any of these risk factors you may be interested in arranging a blood test.

Medichecks offer a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Blood Test which detects markers that may indicate the presence of prostate cancer. If you are aged over 50 years you may be eligible to have a blood test for free on the NHS. Raised PSA levels do not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. If you do have raised PSA levels, your GP may recommend further investigation to establish the underlying cause.

Finding cancer early improves your chances of being successfully treated. It is essential that, if you experience symptoms, or are concerned about your risk, then you visit your GP.

4) Smokers die 10 years younger than non-smokers

Men are not only more likely than women to smoke, but men also smoke more cigarettes per day [4]. We all know that smoking increases your risk of diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Still, many men find it challenging to stop.

This may be because smoking is as much a physiological addiction as it is a habit. If you are considering giving up smoking, then your GP will be able to direct you towards what support is available.

It is good to know that stopping smoking has some lesser-known benefits for men, including:

  • Boosting fertility Tastier food

  • Looking (and smelling) better

  • Having more disposable income

  • Improved sexual performance [5]

Stopping smoking has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health because quitting can increase levels of ‘good cholesterol’ and reduce levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ (you can learn more about cholesterol here) [6,7]. So, quitting could make you feel fitter, and therefore play at the top of your game, for longer!

Medichecks can assess your cholesterol levels using the Cholesterol Blood Test. This test indicates the proportion of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol in your blood, as well as your heart disease risk ratio.

5) Men should drink a maximum of 14 units of alcohol per week

Men are not only more likely to drink but also drink at levels which are hazardous to health [4, 8].

One unit of alcohol is equivalent to one shot of spirit or half a pint of beer. It can be challenging to keep track of how much you drink.

It is best to spread your drinking evenly over 3 or more days and ensure you have several days in the week off the booze entirely. If you’d find this tough, many supermarkets now stock a wide range of alcohol-free lagers, beers and spirits, and many of them are just as good as the real thing!

6) Ideal blood pressure for men is 90/60mmHg - 120/80mmHg

High blood pressure (hypertension) does not usually have any symptoms. The only way to find out if you have it is to get it checked – you can do this at your local GP surgery and some pharmacies.

If you find out that your blood pressure is higher than this, you may need to do something about it. High blood pressure can lead to heart and circulatory problems such as heart attack and stroke. Many simple lifestyle changes, such as exercise and reducing your salt intake [10] are effective ways to reduce high blood pressure.

Our Heart Disease Risk Blood Test can investigate other main factors involved in your heart health, including cholesterol and high sensitivity CRP (a measure of damaging inflammation). It can tell you more about your risk of developing heart disease.

7) 75% (3 out of 4) of suicides are by men.

Men’s mental health is something we all need to talk, about and do, more about.

Men are less likely than women to speak openly about their feelings, but it is vital that if you are going through a rough patch, or simply not feeling yourself, reach out.

Connecting to someone close to you, your GP, or a mental health charity is a crucial first step on your journey to recovery. Samaritans are available 24/7 to talk and listen, on 116 123 (UK) for free.

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[6]Forey, B.A., Fry, J.S., Lee, P.N., Thornton, A.J. and Coombs, K.J., 2013. The effect of quitting smoking on HDL-cholesterol-a review based on within-subject changes.Biomarker research,1(1), p.26.


[8]Wilsnack, R.W., Wilsnack, S.C., Kristjanson, A.F., Vogeltanz‐Holm, N.D. and Gmel, G., 2009. Gender and alcohol consumption: patterns from the multinational GENACIS project.Addiction,104(9), pp.1487-1500.



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