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A healthier, happier life for Pasifika men

This month our focus is on men’s health and the small changes we can make to ensure we get lots of quality time with our family.

What does good health mean to you? Is it being able to work to support your family? Not having to visit the doctor much? Or being well enough to spend time with the family?

In Pacific communities, health often isn’t a priority until something is wrong. The thing is, just because we feel well it may not mean we are well. If we help ourselves by taking small steps towards a healthier lifestyle, we can prevent some illnesses from even happening.

Pacific heart disease statistics

Statistics show that Pacific people are suffering from heart disease at a younger age than non-Pacific people, and men are particularly at risk. However, by taking action now we can change that.

  • In 2015 cardiovascular disease (CVD) was the leading cause of death for Pacific people.
  • 1 in 3 Pacific men died from CVD in 2015.
  • Pacific people are 2.5 times more likely to have experienced heart failure than non-Pacific.

By changing the way we think about health, these deaths could be reduced. That means more time spent enjoying life with your family and friends.

Simple tips to lower your risk

Below are five simple tips for changes you can make to help lower your risk of heart disease.

These are changes everyone can make. So why not lead the way in your community and show others that a healthy lifestyle has lots of benefits?

1. Regular check-ups at the doctor

Regular check-ups to the doctor are important for your health. However the cost can add up and sometimes it’s worrying to even go to the appointment.

Before you visit your doctor, make sure you’re prepared by writing down any health worries you have so you remember to discuss them. You may also like to take a friend along.

You could also start a small savings fund to cover the costs of doctor’s visits, just add your spare change to it.

Man having a health check at the doctors

2. Small changes to your food choices

You are probably aware that what you eat can impact your health, but did you know there are simple changes that can help your wellbeing? Quick snacks like pies and donuts and most other takeaway foods, are high in saturated fat, salt and sugar. If you eat a lot of food high in saturated fat it can block your arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The good news is, small changes can make a big difference. These include, eating plenty of vegetables and fruit, choosing reduced-fat milk and choosing lean meats instead of fatty meats where possible. The closer to how the food is found in nature – the better for your body.

Buy fresh veges from the market and cook them with fish and lean meat at home. It’s much cheaper and healthier for you than buying takeaways. Get the whole family involved with cooking so you can make the change together. Try some of these healthy Pacific recipes to get started, or download our ‘Pasifika Flavours’ cookbook. Cooking food at home can save you money and is easier if you are prepared and know how.

Man eating bowl of cereal in house

3. 30 minutes of exercise a day

Thirty minutes of exercise a day will help keep your body healthy. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout and you don’t need to pay for a gym membership.

Going for a walk is enough – but the more you do the better.

Try to find easy ways to get exercise into your day.

  • Get your friends together to play some sport.
  • Go for a walk on your lunch break.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Get off the bus a few stops early.

You could even start a backyard workout like the Lilo family – and get the community involved.

Couple exercising on bikes outside

4. Quit smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your body. 1 in 4 Pacific adults smoke, which means a huge 3 in 4 don’t. Which side are you on?

No matter what your age it’s never too late to quit smoking. As soon as you stop, your body will start to feel the benefits.

Next time you think about smoking – ask yourself why you do it.

  • Do you really want a cigarette – or is your brain just used to having them? You may be addicted to nicotine but that doesn’t mean you can’t change the way your brain thinks about it. If you quit, over time you’ll become less used to smoking and soon you won’t crave it as much.
  • Is the cigarette worth a shorter life? If you smoke, you’re not only at risk of heart disease but other illnesses like cancer too. Is that cigarette really worth the risk of dying younger?

Quitting smoking will increase your life expectancy and quality. It’ll also save you money and you’ll feel healthier. If those reasons aren’t enough, do it for your partner, your kids, your unborn child and your friends.

Teens in park

These are small, easy changes that can make a real difference to your health.

If you’re not doing it for yourself then do it for your family and community – without you around, who’ll take care of them? You could even get them on board with a healthier lifestyle too. You’re in this together after all.

Find out more about healthy living