Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Job insecurity: destroying us from the inside out

Every so often something that you've long suspected is proven by a piece of research. So it is today with the publication of a study in Cambridge showing the damaging impact of the threat of unemployment on male mental health. We ought to be pleased that we have the evidence to back the hunch but nobody can be happy at evidence demonstrating just how badly wrong we have got things in our society.

According to the study, men are affected by job insecurity - the threat of losing your job - far more than women. This may be because men define themselves in terms of their work far more than women do. The trouble is that all jobs are becoming increasingly insecure. Outsourcing, temporary contracts, freelancing. Nobody gets a job and is set up for life anymore (unless you're Fred Goodwin but I won't get into that again). Yet clearly, psychologically, security is what we need.

In the past to criticise job insecurity was seen as a political position, considered unhelpful by governments who saw job security as a barrier to prosperity. Today's research shows that this is not a political issue but a health one. Not only does this way of working not create wealth, it is destroying us from the inside out.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Congratulations to the government

Nobody's got a good word to say for the government at the moment - not even the bailed-out bankers.

However, the announcement earlier this month that the Men's Health Forum is to be an official strategic partner of the Department of Health is good news for men's health and the government should be congratulated on it. Tomorrow also sees the first ever men's health debate on the floor of the House of Commons - an indication of how far we've come since 1997.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Six exercises using a bar

For technical reasons we can't currently embed videos on the main malehealth site so here you'll find the videos to accompany our fitness coach Scott Pearson's series on exercises every man should know. For the original article, click here.

Bench Press

Back Squat


Bent Over Row

Military Press

Upright Row

Monday, March 2, 2009

Nicole, stop frightening us

Which? have questioned the lack of science behind brain trainers that tell you your 'brain age'. These products have always interested me not just because Nicole Kidman advertises them but because, to be honest, I'm terrified of dementia. I've seen it eat into grandparents on both side of my family and given that I never had much a memory in the first place, I've always wanted to know what i could to avoid the inevitable or, at least delay it as long as possible.

I tried one of these online brain tests and I have to say it did nothing at all to ease my fears, quite the opposite. With every single question a race against a 30-second clock, I felt like a chess player being timed out, reeling from bad move to bad move. I never finished the thing as - thankfully - I was interrupted but I have no doubt that my 'brain age' would have been up in three figures as I panicked, made daft mistakes and clicked in the wrong place.

Like everybody I want to believe that there is a magic bullet out there but there isn't one for Alzheimer's any more than there is for cancer or heart disease. As ever, it's about money. Some of these products are not cheap. Private medicine will always be there to exploit our fears of illness and as science advances so do their marketing techniques. One of the great things about the NHS is that we never have to ask ourselves the question 'Is this treatment for the benefit of my health or my medic's bank balance?' (Under any health care regime where money changes hands between doctor and patient - not just terrible ones like in the USA but even supposedly good ones like France - you're asking it every five minutes.)

The worry for health campaigners - and this is the men's health angle here - is that people who can't afford to be scared because they can't afford the solutions will simply turn off and not take any notice of any health advice. You may not need a 'brain trainer' but doing the odd crossword won't hurt. If anybody wants to help me with mine, I'm stuck on 'instinctive sense of self-preservation on which commerce preys' (4). First letter F.