Aussie men think they’re fighting fit…but are they really?


5 minutes

A plate of healthy snacks with hands reaching for them

According to national health data, most Australian men think they’re fighting fit…but that same data shows most of them have room for improvement.

Data published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that 3 in 5 Aussie men would rate their own health as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’.

But that same data has shown that across several important health metrics, there’s some room for improvement.1

It would seem there’s a bit of a disconnect here. Does this hold true for you? Are you missing something in terms of taking care of yourself?

Here’s what the data shows – and what you can do about it.

Only 1 in 2 men get enough physical activity

That’s right, only about half of Aussie men are getting enough exercise.

What is ‘enough'?

For adults aged 18 – 64, it’s 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate physical activity a week and muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week.1

If you like, you can do 1.25 – 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity instead, or a combination of both moderate and vigorous.

For adults aged 65 and over, it’s recommended to get 30 minutes of moderate activity on most, preferably all, days.1

Why should you do it?

Getting this much activity on a consistent basis can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions.1

It can also have positive mental health effects – and can even help the guy in the mirror achieve a healthy weight. (Who is that guy?)

  • If you’re not used to regular exercise, start small and gradually build up.2 You’re not running laps with Cathy Freeman. Go at your own pace and set realistic goals.
  • Not into pumping iron? Group fitness classes like yoga and Pilates can be great for strengthening your muscles.
  • Don’t forget HBF can help you achieve your fitness goals. Check out our gym membership deal with Snap Fitness.

Fewer than 1 in 30 men eat enough fruit and vegetables

It’s not just children who don’t eat enough greens these days. Less than half (47%) of men over the age of 18 are getting enough fruit, and only 1 in 25 of them are getting enough veg.3

Who gets enough of both fruit and veg? Fewer than 1 in 30 Aussie men, that’s who.

What can you do about it?

  • Health experts recommend eating two serves of fruit and five to six serves of vegetables each day (fun fact: cider is not a fruit).4
  • Search for veggie-packed recipes for inspiration. Here are five tips to help you find healthy recipes online.
  • Try to choose a variety of colours in your fruit and vegetables (this helps to ensure you are getting a great mix of nutrients).4

3 in 4 men are carrying excess weight

While social media might have declared that “dadbods” are cool in recent years, the fact is that being overweight or obese can put you at higher risk for certain diseases or conditions.5

The good news? Achieving a healthy weight can have long-term health benefits.

  • Eating a balanced diet and getting enough regular physical activity can help you maintain or achieve a healthy weight.
  • Choose whole, minimally processed foods from the 5 main food groups (fruit, vegetables, dairy, grains, and lean meats).6
  • Limit your intake of highly processed foods that are high in saturated fats, added sugars and salt (like biscuits, burgers and soft drinks).7
  • Swap out ingredients for healthier alternatives when you’re cooking (for example, try substituting sour cream with reduced fat natural yogurt).8

1 in 2 men have a chronic condition

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on 10 common chronic condition groups. These include mental health conditions, back pain, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, diabetes and others.8

As it turns out, about half of Australian men are affected by one of them.8

Age is a factor here – 76% of men aged 65 and over have a chronic condition. But you might be surprised to hear that 38% of men aged 45 and under do as well.

What can you do?

  • Regular exercise, eating closely to the national dietary guidelines, and maintaining a healthy weight can all help reduce your risk of developing a chronic condition.11
  • Take time to consider your mental health. 45% of Aussies are living with a mental health condition.9 Here are five tips to help you look after your mental health.

3 in 5 men rate their health as 'excellent' or 'very good'

You read that correctly.

Aussie men’s general view of their own health is quite positive, but the evidence suggests many of them aren’t meeting the recommended guidelines for physical activity and healthy eating.10

On one level, you could admire the spectacular show of confidence.

But on another level, we could acknowledge there are areas in our overall health that could stand to be paid a bit more attention.

Think of the future

Both men and women are much more likely to find themselves in hospital for one reason or another as they age.12

Even if you’re healthy now, it’s worth thinking about what the future might hold for your health and healthcare needs.

Think about health insurance

The good news is private health insurance can provide cover to support you with a number of health conditions. Take out cover now and you might just thank yourself later.

Only 47% of Australian men have both hospital and extras cover.13 If you don’t have it, ask yourself if it’s worth considering.

Think about your health

Most of us would prefer to avoid the hospital in the first place if we can. There are several ways to do that. Not running laps with Cathy Freeman is one way. Another way is to look after our health with regular physical activity and good nutrition.1,2

1The health of Australia’s males – Physical activity Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019)
2How to start exercising Health Direct (2020)
3The health of Australia’s males – Diet Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019)
4Australian Dietary Guidelines Eat For Health (2013)
5The health of Australia’s males – Overweight and obesity Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019)
6Weight loss – a healthy approach Better Health Channel (2020)
7Australian Dietary Guidelines Eat For Health (2013)
8The health of Australia’s males – Chronic conditions Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019)
9Mental health services in Australia Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021)
10The health of Australia’s males – Self-assessed health status Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019)
11Exercise and mental health Health Direct (2019)
12The health of Australia’s males – Hospital care Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019)
13The health of Australia’s males – Private health insurance Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019)

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This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.