AU researcher encourages men to get more involved in their health during Canadian Men’s Health Week
The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation states that Canada is among the world’s healthiest countries, but research shows that many Canadian men face health challenges due to poor eating, inactivity, high levels of stress, and social isolation.
June 15-21 is Men’s Health Week in Canada—a week dedicated to focusing on men’s health and promoting healthy lifestyles.
Dr. Steven Johnson, Program Director in the Faculty of Health Disciplines at Athabasca University (AU), is a principal investigator for the expansion of the POWERPLAY Program, which was designed specifically to promote men’s health and address some of the specific challenges men face.
POWERPLAY, funded by the Ministry of Labour and Immigration in Alberta, is an evidence-based workplace wellness program for men that offers unique resources to support healthy and active lifestyles in the workplace and at home.
This award-winning program has benefited countless men, and helped spark discussion around being open and transparent about men’s health promotion—a topic often stigmatized and avoided.
“Men are often very reserved in terms of going to get checkups or seeing health professionals. No one talks to them about their health, and they don’t talk about their health,” Johnson said.
The modules included in POWERPLAY are all unique, interactive, and engaging, focusing on topics including healthy eating, active living, mental health, smoking cessation, and most recently, sleep and suicide. Johnson mentioned that a goal is to be able to provide workplaces with supports to implement policies and education revolving around men’s health.
“Men are often very reserved in terms of going to get checkups or seeing health professionals. No one talks to them about their health, and they don’t talk about their health.”– Dr. Steven Johnson
“POWERPLAY is a program that can be deployed in industries that are primarily male dominated. For example, in Alberta, we have been working with oil and gas, logging and, more recently, mining industries,” he said.
“The program is informed by the literature, and we also asked men what they wanted. It’s implemented in the workplace and designed to be flexible. We realize that not all workplaces are the same.”
Through the course of the study, Johnson said it’s been observed that men really do want to engage in healthy behaviours, countering the popular notion that men don’t want to focus on their health. He emphasized that when workplaces support their employees’ health and well-being, it makes employees healthier and happier.
“If I could give any advice to men when it comes to health promotion and well-being, I’d say it’s okay to care about your health and to be healthy. It’s okay to take time to be healthy,” he said.
“If I could give any advice to men when it comes to health promotion and well-being, I’d say it’s okay to care about your health and to be healthy. It’s okay to take time to be healthy.”– Dr. Steven Johnson
To learn more about research activities in the Faculty of Health Disciplines, visit the Faculty Research web page.
POWERPLAY was developed through a collaboration among the Canadian Cancer Society, BC Cancer Agency, Northern Health, and researchers from the University of British Columbia and Athabasca University, and is supported by funding from the Canadian Cancer Society.
As of 2019, with funding from the Alberta Ministry of Labour – Occupational Health and Safety Futures Program, further development and evaluation of POWERPLAY is being led by researchers from the University of British Columbia and Athabasca University.