Clinical FeaturesMen’s Health

How do behavior and emotional state affect the lifestyle, quality and length of men’s lives?

How do behavior and emotional state affect the lifestyle, quality and length of men’s lives?
‘Each man lived his own life and paid his own price for living it.’ Oscar Wilde

With the development of the society, people have become more and more interested in the topic of health. The philosophers of antiquity were the first ones to study health. In ancient Greece, a huge contribution was made by Hippocrates, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras and others. Hippocrates was a founder of a healthy lifestyle, whose postulates were set out in his book ‘Health program: A Proven Guide to Healthful Living’. Pythagoras, the father of valeology – the science of the health of a healthy person and of a ‘virtuous life’, which in modern society is called a healthy lifestyle, was the first one to study the health of a healthy, not of a sick person. In ancient Rome, Asclepiades, Celsus, Galen, and others, as well as scientists from ancient India, Tibet, and China, made their contribution to the study of health. Philosophers and scientists of antiquity, studying health, came to a conclusion that health depends not only on a healthy lifestyle, but also on the behavior and activities a person is engaged in. Confucius (China BC) created the doctrine of human behavior in various life situations. The Buddha’s teaching has been based on human behavior and experience.

The World Health Organization has defined health as ‘A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. The formation of health occurs under the influence of various factors: living and working conditions, nutrition, behavior, the presence or absence of bad habits, and much more. Men, just like women, create their own health. Behavior plays a big role in men’s lives. It has an impact on all areas of life: health, family, work, finances, environment, recreation, etc. The quality and longevity of men’s lives depends on an individual behavior of a man, and results in their level of success, moral and material well-being, social status. In September 2021, as a part of the 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, WHO/Europe hold an event ‘Health literacy in the assessment of the analysis of behavioral and cultural factors’. In 2022, WHO/Europe launched the Behavioral and Cultural Factors Research Unit (behavioral cultural factors are a set of psychological, cultural, social and other factors) – a new flagship initiative that identifies behaviors which affect health. Such departments have already been established in the Netherlands, Slovakia, Wales and Finland. Behavioral cultural factors play an important role in both improving and worsening of the men’s health.

In recent decades, a new term sanogenic-healing or health-saving behavior, which promotes physical and psychological health, has appeared. Pathogenic behavior is a behavior, which leads to health disorders: weakening of the immune system, the appearance of diseases and a possible death. Destructive behavior is aimed at destroying one’s own personality (alcoholism, drug addiction, etc.), personal relationships, ties with society, which can lead to degradation. The risky behavior of men can harm not only their own health, but also the health of other people. For example, men change sexual partners more often than women, which can lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the spread of those infections; malfunction of the reproductive function and reproductive system in men as a result of skin and venereal diseases; violate traffic rules; get behind the wheel in a state of intoxication or when are unwell. More often men are involved in extreme sports such as base jumping, one of the most dangerous sports – jumping with a special parachute from low objects: bridges, roofs of multi-storey buildings, rocks, etc.; heliskiing – jumping from a helicopter and riding on the untouched snowy slopes of the mountains, etc. All of the abovementioned can lead to serious consequences up to injuries incompatible with life. Also, men are engaged in activities, such as working at night, having little sleep, which results in the psychological overload and stress and can cause a heart attack, stroke, blood pressure instability, chronic diseases of the cardiovascular system. Various forms of behavior may depend on age, for instance, adolescents, young people are more likely to expose their body to the negative effects associated with pain – piercing, tattoos, etc., the consequence of which may be infection with HIV infection, hepatitis B, C and other infections, transmitted through blood, infected instrument, staff hands.

Men and women react differently to the environment, the people who surround them. Life is not without emotions. The lifestyle defines what emotions will dominate. Emotions affect all organs and systems of the body, physical and psychological health. There is no universal classification of emotions. Scientists from the University of California, Berkley identified 27 categories, both positive – joy, admiration, surprise, interest, etc., and negative – anger, fear, horror, disgust, etc. Emotions can be explicit, hidden, controlled and uncontrolled. They are directly related to behavior, and behavior – to thinking, which can also be sanogenic (positive), pathogenic (negative) and destructive. The higher the level of culture, intellect, moral and ethical qualities, the state of the psyche of men, the better their health and quality of life is.

Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD, professor of psychology at Northeastern University in Boston, winner of the National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award for research on emotions, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, showed in her book ‘How Emotions Are Born’ that people themselves create emotions and themselves manage them based on their own knowledge, experience, culture of the country, family and upbringing. British scientist neurophysiologist, Nobel laureate Charles Sherington proved the connection of emotions with physical changes in the body. Negative manifestations in men: anger, aggressiveness, irritability, jealousy, fear, etc. can lead to an increase in blood pressure, body temperature; stroke, heart attack, disorder of the immune, endocrine systems; liver, kidneys, bladder and more. Positive emotions, such as laughter, joy, delight give a surge of strength, energy, cheer up, as a consequence, the health indicators (pulse, pressure, blood sugar) are normalized; the condition of the skin, hair improved, the hormonal background is restored, etc. With the manifestation of positive emotions, the hormones of happiness (endorphin, dopamine) are released, which prolongs life. Dopamine is a hormone of confidence, which is necessary for making decisions. From a positive (optimist) or negative (pessimist) attitude to life, emotional state, the decision made may prevent or create health problems, improve or worsen the quality of life, so psychologists do not recommend making decisions based on emotions, even positive ones. Hidden or unmanifested emotions are more inherent in men. According to the research by American scientists, men have a lower level of social adaptation than women. Men do not like to ‘show emotions’, they try to ‘keep everything in themselves.’ It is difficult for them to ask for support or help, to share their problems or experiences, life events, even positive ones. Emotions can be ‘hidden’, but they won’t go away, so unexpressed suppressed emotions, especially negative ones – resentment, guilt, jealousy, etc., can contribute to depression, mental illness, oncology, premature death (heart attack), suicide. Emotions cannot be kept in oneself, they must be manifested – released. It is also necessary to learn how to control emotions. Uncontrolled emotions lead to aggression, a heat of passion, negative consequences up to physical violence. Emotions and mental health are closely related. Even the ancients said that the soul and body are dependent on each other.

In recent years, obesity has become a very serious problem in the world. It claims millions of human lives, which leads to social and economic losses. Overweight and obesity are a social problem in all countries of the world, associated with lifestyle and recognized as a disease (WHO data). In recent years, obesity has acquired the character of a pandemic – Globesity, regardless of the economic level of countries. Mexico, USA, South Korea, Canada, Brazil, India are currently in the lead. In European countries, the largest number of men is registered in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Greece, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine. There is a trend towards an increase in the number of overweight and obese children and adolescents (especially boys), which is a risk factor and guarantees weight problems in adulthood.

In June 2022, the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA) hosted the ‘Tipping the Scales: Global Response to Obesity’ event, which aims at preventing the spread of obesity. A new WHO/ Europe Policy Brief ‘Obesity in the WHO European Region’ was presented, providing the latest data on obesity and approaches to preventing and controlling obesity. One of the main causes of overweight and obesity are physical inactivity or lack of physical activity. Many men lead a sedentary lifestyle, resulting in overweight, leading to obesity. Obesity in men can contribute to an increase in blood cholesterol levels, which leads to the occurrence of cardiovascular disease; problems with body systems: respiratory – Pickwick’s syndrome – shortness of breath, daytime sleepiness; musculoskeletal – osteoarthritis of the hip and knee joints; varicose veins in the legs; endocrine – hormonal imbalance, the risk of hormone-dependent tumors; the work of the thyroid, pancreas (type 2 diabetes mellitus – in men it is noted twice as often as in women (statistical data); metabolic disorders provoke oncology – cancer of the prostate, testicles, stomach; psychological stress; sexual dysfunction; a decrease in cognitive abilities – a deterioration in memory, the ability to concentrate; premature death – life expectancy is shortened by 5 – 15 years, depending on the degree of obesity. In addition, men who are overweight or obese face discrimination when applying for a job, feel discomfort when traveling in transport, difficulties in purchasing clothes, which lowers their self-esteem and can lead to severe depression and other psychological disorders, suicide.

The medieval physician, philosopher Avicenna (Abu Ali ibn Sina) considered exercise, nutrition and sleep to be essential for maintaining health. Asklepiad – singled out walking and running as beneficial for health, Plato – advised to do physical exercises for beauty and health all your life. Thanks to physical exercises, blood circulation improves, the brain retains mobility and inquisitiveness of the mind for a longer time, which means prolonged youth. The second important cause of overweight and obesity, especially in men, is malnutrition: drinking alcohol, high-calorie foods – confectionery, fatty foods, sugary carbonated drinks (Coca-Cola, etc.), fast food; salty food – cheeses, sausages and other. A late dinner, large amounts of food and a lack of focus on food, negatively affect men’s health: men like to watch TV while eating, work at a computer, ‘surf on the internet, speak on the phone,’ etc. The human brain is designed in such a way that it reacts to a stronger stimulus, so being distracted from food and all eaten is converted into fat. Types of nutrition for healthy people of different ages, given the seasons, were laid down by Hippocrates. Hippocrates said: ‘I am what I eat’ and believed that the life expectancy of obese people is short. Nutrition and health are intertwined. Everything that a person eats is reflected in the psychological and physical health, appearance. American scientist, philosopher Benjamin Franklin said: ‘We must eat to live, not live to eat. The more food, the more disease.’ Indian ‘Ayurveda’; Tibetan, Chinese folk medicine attribute healing significance to nutrition. By 2030, 1 billion people in the world are predicted to be obese, of which one in seven is a man. Obesity can become the main risk factor for cancer (WHO data), and by 2050, 45% of the world’s population will be overweight, and 16% will suffer from obesity (data from the World Obesity Federation – WFO).

Also, a passive or in other words, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity. Sitting causes a chronic increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to obesity and depression. Even a short sitting impairs brain activity, disrupts metabolism, the level of the lipoprotein lipase enzyme in the blood decreases and calories are stored in fat, the level of ‘healthy’ cholesterol falls. Long sitting increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, blood clots in the legs, osteoporosis, and premature death (Australian studies). Men often sit in front of the TV, in the office, driving a car, etc. As a result, the circulation of venous blood in the pelvic organs is disturbed, stagnation and oxygen starvation occur in the prostate gland, which leads to prostatitis. With prolonged sitting, the overheating of the inguinal region and testicles increases (their temperature is lower than body temperature), which affects erection, sperm reproduction, thus, the production of the male sex hormone, testosterone, decreases. Consequently, it is harmful for men to use a heated seat. It is undesirable to sit cross-legged as the vessels are compressed, the blood circulation of the inguinal region worsens. When sitting, the load on the spine rises- back pain appears, pressure on the intervertebral discs increases and posture is disturbed. One in ten people die from a sedentary lifestyle (studies from Queen’s University of Belfast, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.). Scientists from Cornell University (USA) formulated the principle of prevention: ‘healthy activity during the day.’


Urbanization, computerization of all spheres of life, the influence of society, environment; behavioral and cultural factors, emotional state; hypodynamia or decreased physical activity, improper or unhealthy diet has a tremendous impact on the health and quality of life of men. On the contrary, healthy lifestyle: constant physical activity throughout life, rational nutrition, culture of behavior, control of emotions; following the programs of the WHO and other healthcare structures involved in prevention of diseases of the population; staying up to date with the researches of the world scientists who study the health of a healthy person will allow men strengthen and maintain their men’s health, increase life expectancy, and improve the level and quality of life.

Written by Tatiana Iarmak – http:// Lecturer of the Department of Advanced Training of Junior Medical Specialists at the Municipal Health Care Institution ‘Kharkiv Regional Medical Vocational College’, Kharkiv, Ukraine. An independent trainer, consultant to medical facilities and non-medical facilities to instruct medical staff on how to safely provide services to patients/clients.

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