There’s a new kind of gender gap happening in America -- and this one is centered around men’s health. Today, the average man dies nearly six years before his female counterpart, up five years since 1920, according to statistics collected by the non-profit organization Men’s Health Network. They are also more likely to die from the top 10 causes of death than women are.
More than 70 percent of men are overweight or obese (compared to 64 percent of women), around a quarter die from either heart disease or cancer and more than 32,000 men will die of prostate cancer alone each year.
Why? The theories, according to Men’s Health Network, include the fact that men are more likely not to have healthcare coverage and half as likely to make preventive visits to a physician -- not to mention that there’s a societal pressure for men to, well, “man up,” and not complain about health ailments. A brand-new Fox News national survey has found that nearly 70 percent of men find it easier to care for their cars than for their personal health.
And no matter the reason, the bottom line is that today’s men are living increasingly unhealthy lifestyles. So in honor of Father’s Day, which is this Sunday, June 19, 2011, why not give Dad the gift of letting him know that you want for him to live a healthier, happier and longer life?
To help, we’ve put together tons of out of the (tie) box ideas that encompass different categories of men's lives, which we will be featuring in the week leading up to Father’s Day 2011.
For day one, we've collected ideas for the dad with a desk job -- the average full-time working man spends 8.3 hours a day at work (compared to 7.5 hours for women). That adds up to more than a third of a 24-hour day. And considering that the majority of these jobs are spent sedentary, sitting at a desk, what better place to focus on health and wellness? Check out these ideas and then share your own.
PLUS: Feeling lucky? Enter for a chance to win the ultimate Healthy Dad Gift Package -- which includes sneakers, athletic clothing, a Tupperware lunchbox and a massage gift certificate -- here.
Eating out for lunch adds 158 calories to daily intake, according to a report out last year from the USDA's Economic Research Service -- making it the largest caloric difference of any meal or snack. And that effect ratchets up for people who have a BMI of 30 or more (classifying them as obese) -- in this group, an away-from-home meal tacks on an additional 230 calories. Encourage Dad to skip the fast food line with a fun lunchbox. The idea may conjure up images of superhero plastic contraptions from his childhood, but many companies now offer masculine alternatives that can slip into a briefcase (unless, of course, superheroes are his thing). BUILT offers a plain black version of its Tasty Lunch Tote, which is insulated to keep foods warm or cool for up to four hours (they also have insulated drink totes to discourage a daily calorie bomb at the local coffee stop). For a green message, try reuseit's "I'm Not A Paper Bag" lunch sack that is a reusable version of its traditional namesake. Or, check out Tupperware's "His Lunch Set," which includes an insulated lunch bag with an outside zipper pocket and a set of containers that will fit whatever he decides to pack.
According to the United States Department of Labor, ergonomics in the workplace can increase productivity and workers' satisfaction, while decreasing illnesses and injuries at work. Keep Dad productive and comfortable -- without the muscle strain associated with hunching over a desk all day. Check out these rankings from ConsumerSearch of top ergonomic office chairs. Staples, OfficeMax and Humanscale all offer chairs with adjustable arms and backs, as well as special spine alignment features. No matter which one you choose, print out this ergonomic chair guide from OSHA so he can create the right working posture.
Studies have linked sedentary jobs to everything from lower back pain to heart problems -- and now a recent study published in PLoS1 has linked inactivity at work to the obesity epidemic, pointing out that daily work related energy expenditure has dropped by an average of 142 calories among men. Many fitness organizations suggest a target walking goal of 10,000 steps a day to stay fit and active. So instead of the usual gadget suspects, try getting Dad a pedometer this year -- Amazon.com has a slew at different price points, along with reader reviews. You can also find a set of hand weights for him to keep at his desk, or fun desk exercise books like "Office Yoga: At Your Desk Exercises" or "Stretching At Your Computer Or Desk." Or, keep him moving while he's sitting with office fitness machines, like this under-the-desk cycling apparatus.
Women get a bad rap for carrying their weight around in a purse, but men who weigh down one side of the body with a heavy briefcase or bag -- particularly one loaded up with papers, a laptop and files -- may also be taking a toll on the back and shoulders. Some schools have suggested limiting the poundage on backpacks out of concern for the joints, spine and back, so give Dad the same treatment -- take the load off with a new ergonomic bag. AmeriBag's HelixX Collection, for instance, offers sporty-looking bags in both backpack and messenger style, while Chrome offers a laptop bag/backpack hybrid. Google around to find the right fit for your father's needs. You can also lighten his load in the first place by splurging on an eReader or tablet.
The right keyboard and mouse can prevent repetitive strain injuries developed from typing and clicking all day. The right keyboard will allow you to keep your hands in a more natural position (rather than the typical flat keyboard), and is often curved or split to accommodate natural movements. The mouse can also be created with the mechanics of the hand in mind. You may also want to try an ergonomic desk phone or wired head set -- the latter may also be a good fit for men who spend all day glued to the cell phone, as a recent WHO report labeled cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen. Office supply stores and Amazon.com have a ton of different options -- or, because personal preferences may differ -- you can give Dad a "coupon" that he can redeem with you at the store.
If Dad's 9-to-5 philosophy is all work and no play, you may want to tell him to snap out of it. While staying focused on work is, of course, important, studies have found that brief breaks may actually boost productivity. For a cheap gift this Father's Day, commit to sending dad a funny eCard, viral video or link once a day for the rest of the month. To improve productivity, he may also want to take a quick snooze in his office, if it's appropriate for his job and workplace. Several studies have linked a quick daytime nap (15 or 20 minutes) to jumps in productivity. If he's not one of the lucky workers whose employer offers a nap room, try giving him a pillow to stash in a drawer, along with an eye mask and a soothing sounds machine.