Walking the talk on men’s health

Walking the talk on men’s health

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 vice-president 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 help-seeking, 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.”