With about 50% of Aussie men over the age of 15 reporting health concerns like depression, diabetes and asthma, it’s never been more relevant to talk about the importance of men’s health.
So, to coincide with Men’s Health Week 2017, we sat down for a chat with NRL Knights legend and nib’s very own ‘The Chief’, Paul Harragon to find out his secrets to keeping a healthy body and mind.
With the benefits of meditation including improvements in mood, focus and attention; it’s no surprise that for the last 20 years, Paul has spent time meditating every day.
“I can’t go without it. I meditate twice a day for about an hour and it’s an absolutely essential part of my lifestyle,” he says.
Not only can meditation impact your mood and relieve stress, but a number of studies highlight the neurological benefits of meditation.
2. Get active
“You gotta do something every day,” says Paul.
It doesn’t matter how hard you train or what type of exercise you do, keeping active every single day is an essential part of The Chief’s routine. Paul recommends finding something you enjoy – that way, exercising will never be a grudge activity.
“I walk every day and if I can get myself to the gym, I will. Throughout the week, I’ll add in some boxing, surfing or swimming to keep things interesting.”
“I’ve found as I get older, if I miss even one day of training, it’s so much harder the next day,” reveals Paul, “Exercising every day is just as important to me as eating breakfast. I don’t even think about it anymore. I just do it.”
Exercising every day is just as important to me as eating breakfast. I don’t even think about it anymore. I just do it.
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3. Mate dates
Studies have shown that men who have regular catch-ups with their mates are healthier – physically and mentally – than those who don’t, and Paul agrees.
“As you become older, you become more isolated with your family group; your priorities change. Find people that have the same common interests and get them out training with you or meet with them for a coffee and chat.”
And research shows that communicating through text, social media or phone calls don’t count, so Paul recommends setting time aside every week.
“Every Saturday morning, I have a group of mates that get together for some comradery, sledging and laughs. We go for a bike ride and swim and finish with a coffee.”
4. Be mindful with your diet
Become aware of what you eat and drink and start taking note of how your body reacts to certain foods. You might find that some types of food leave you feeling bloated and sluggish, whereas others might give you energy.
“I don’t eat red meat and moderate the amount of alcohol I drink”, reveals Paul.
“Whatever you decide to do with your diet, there will always be opposition. Have conviction in your choices and you’ll become magnetic. If you truly believe in your improvements and yourself, your mates will accept it.”
5. Challenge yourself
Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone – whether it be trying a new activity, going overseas alone or even just challenging yourself at your next gym session – has shown to have big impacts. Not only could it increase productivity, but you could also become better at harnessing creativity by questioning your confirmation bias.
Paul agrees, “I love adventure and every year, I go on a trek that’s both mentally and physically challenging. Walking is the most natural way to unwind your thoughts and allows me to get deep into where I’m at and what I’m doing in life. Add in some thrill, excitement and a bit of nervousness and you’ve got a winning combination.”
6. Family first
The relationships we have with our family impact on our wellbeing – helping us build trust, feel more supported and get through stressful times.
“I make it a priority to keep a close knit family and aim to get the whole gang together, regularly. It gets harder as your kids get older, but I try and communicate with them every day. My daughter is currently overseas studying, so I’ll be Facebooking or Skyping her whenever I can,” Paul says.
“Try and find an activity to do with your kids that you both enjoy; it could be going out for a feed, or training together. The last thing you want in your family is angst, so make sure there’s open communication.”
Have conviction in your choices and you’ll become magnetic.
7. Switch off
Paul makes a conscious effort to switch off technology after the working day has finished.
“Use it sparingly. Don’t trawl through Facebook or Instagram and get to the point that it becomes a habit – you never want to let technology become a default mechanism that consumes your spare time.”
8. Keep a diary
Keeping a journal has some serious health benefits from helping you achieve your goals to increasing your IQ and it’s something Paul recommends doing once a day.
“I keep a small diary and jot down notes in it every evening. It can include anything from how I’m feeling that day to the training I did. I don’t often look over it, but I find it helps me analyse and clear my brain,” says Paul.
If you’re keen to get some more health tips and tricks, check-out our Healthy Living articles.