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Are Canadian Men at Risk for Chronic Disease?

According to a New Study, the Answer is Yes …

The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF) compiled the first national study on men’s health behaviours. The study — released for Men’s Health Week this week — is the result of polling 2,000 men between the ages of 19 and 94 on five health behaviours which have proven links to the risk of developing chronic disease.

The results are not encouraging. When asked about diet, sleep, exercise, smoking and drinking, only 6% of men were classified as having very healthy behaviours with 72% falling into the borderline to unhealthy categories.

Mens’s Health Infographic by CMHF

Dr. Larry Goldenberg, Chairman of the CMHF, says “I hope other researchers will use this platform to study different populations around the globe and design targeted interventions to engage men to live healthier lifestyles. After all, 70% of men’s chronic health conditions are caused by lifestyle and, unlike genetics, can be changed to improve your health.”

As a certified medical health facility, the Wellness Institute has spent over twenty years focusing on lifestyle medicine interventions to address four major areas of lifestyle-related risk factors:

Through personalized fitness, nutrition and lifestyle-change programs, our professional staff helps members develop and implement a plan to achieve their own health goals.

While 52% of our facilities members are men, showing many are working on getting the preventative health benefits of exercise, our experts also see the other side of the story.

“We see many people come to us for support who have been inactive and are now managing a health issue like heart disease or diabetes,” says Darren Brereton, Director of Health and Fitness Programs at the Wellness Institute.

72.5% of those who attended the Cardiac Rehabilitation program in 2016/17 were men. Though this medically-supervised program is vitally important to the recovery from and management of heart disease, changing a few of the risky health behaviours early on could reduce the need for such intervention.

Paul Benito, member, lifting weights at the Wellness Institute as part of his commitment to a preventative, healthy lifestyle.

“If you don’t have your health you are not going anywhere – it’s all about your health,” says Paul Benito, past Cardiac Rehab participant and Wellness member who now believes that an exercise program, along with a healthy diet are key components of a healthy lifestyle (read his story here).

Wayne Hartrick, President of the CMHF, points out that it doesn’t take much for a man to go from the “unhealthy” category to the “healthy” category. “Think of these categories as a ladder. Most Canadian men can move up a rung by changing just one unhealthy behaviour. They can go up two rungs by changing two behaviours, like eating five fist-sized servings of fruit and getting seven hours of sleep. It’s about having the control to veer away from disease.”

Where exactly are men struggling with healthy behaviours?
Details of the study findings include:

  • Eating Habits: 62% of Canadian men have an unhealthy diet, not getting their recommended daily 5-7 servings of fruit and veggies;
  • Exercise: 59% of Canadian men do not get 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week;
  • Sleep: 54% of Canadian men do not get 7-8 hours of sleep per night;
  • Alcohol: 39% of Canadian men have unhealthy alcohol consumption; and
  • Smoking: 20% of Canadian men smoke cigarettes.

The good news is that taking small steps to improve your health can have dramatic results.

As we head towards Father’s Day and celebrate Men’s Health Week, it’s a great time to think about small changes that can add up to more years and better quality of life.


If you or someone in your family needs help making lifestyle changes to prevent or manage chronic disease, the Wellness Institute can help. Contact info@wellnessinstitute.ca for questions about the support and expertise available, or browse our services.