Grey Cup a good time to talk about men's health, says 2-time champion

Canadians are grabbing their beer, chips, dip and all the goodies that go along with the Grey Cup game, but a two-time champion says the football celebrations can also be a time to talk about keeping healthy.

Shea Emry is part of a new campaign called Don’t Change Much which encourages men to make smarter choices about their health.

The Calgary Stampeders face the Toronto Argonauts in the 105th Grey Cup game on Sunday and Emry said it is the perfect opportunity to reach out.

“We understand that the guys in the league are people that we want to talk to, the fans are the people we want to talk to, so the time is now because of that,” Emry said on CBC Radio’s Weekend Morning Show.

The linebacker, who played eight seasons with the CFL, said after he retired it was difficult to keep a healthy lifestyle. He was a father to young children and running a business, so he didn’t have nearly as much time to work out.

But there was also another reason he didn’t look for help.

“I think the thing with Canadian men, and men in general, is … we feel that we are invulnerable and we don’t need to seek help and we can take care of ourselves by ourselves and that’s wrong,” Emry said.

“People just try and feel like they can handle it on their own when really it takes somebody who is a bigger man to reach out and seek help and say ‘Hey I go to therapy on a regular basis and I need to go see my [medical doctor].'”

Shea Emry battled depression

Two-time Grey Cup champion Shea Emry says it is important for men to talk about their health. (Marie-Claude Cabana)

Statistics around men’s health are alarming, but many of the conditions are preventable, according to the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, which started the campaign.

Men are 79 per cent more likely to die from heart disease and diabetes, the foundation said, but men are much less likely to have visited a doctor in the past year.

Men also account for 82 per cent of alcohol-related deaths.

For Emry, he started therapy and found little ways to make a change in his lifestyle.

He did push-ups when he was playing with his kids on the floor, lunged in lines and made more time for the gym.

It’s the little steps that make a big difference, he said, adding that’s also the goal of the campaign. 

“If you try and bite off a huge chunk and make a drastic change in your life it’s going to be a shock,” he said.

“Really what it comes down to is making those small changes, because those are what you can adopt in a palatable manner.”

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CBC | Health News