They might be known for being rubbish at going to the doctor, and not too great at talking about their feelings – but stereotypes aside, there are plenty of men out there who are doing brilliant things as role models and ambassadors for better health and wellbeing.
We decided to round up some of our favourites. Because for all its bad points (FOMO, self-obsession, one-upmanship, self-esteem damage…), social media can also be a source of inspiration and motivation, providing you filter where you’re choosing to focus your attention.
From the cyclists proving chronic illness doesn’t have to hold you back, to the runner who overcame bullying and depression to become a hero fundraiser and motivational speaker, here are five male wellness ambassadors to follow now…
1. Ben Smith
In 2015, Ben embarked on The 401 Challenge, vowing to run 401 marathons in 401 days to raise awareness and fund-raise for two charities dedicated to tackling bullying.
Not only did he smash his target, the challenge marked a pivotal point in Ben’s own personal journey, overcoming the bullying and self-esteem difficulties he endured at boarding school, a nervous breakdown, and transforming his physical health following a ‘mini stroke’.
Now, he’s still running, and devotes his time to giving talks at events and in schools and colleges and managing The 401 Foundation, to support projects aimed at bolstering self-esteem and mental health.
2. Simon Hooper
He’s married to Clemmie Hooper – aka midwife and mummy-blogger ‘mother of daughters’, who documents life with four young daughters through her Instagram account and Gas&Air blog – and Simon’s there to remind everybody that dads are a central part of the parenting equation too, from striking that all-important work-life balance and cherishing those everyday moments, to sharing in the stress and strife of family life.
In his own Instagram feed, ‘father of daughters’, complete with cheesy snaps and grounding captions, he reassures and reminds dads that a little humour goes a long way.
3. Team Novo Nordisk
OK, this is a group rather than an individual, but Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetic pro cycling team, is more than worthy of a place on our list.
Being told you’re going to have to keep a close check on your diet and carefully regulate your insulin levels for life, to keep serious and potentially life-threatening consequences at bay, can be a tough blow, and it’s not that long ago that people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes were advised to steer clear of sport.
These guys (there’s now a female team too) are pedalling an inspiring message – that obstacles can be overcome, and taking positive action to manage your health can have incredible results.
4. Sean Conway
A little escapism, and having something to look forward to, can work wonders for keeping stress in line and spirits ramped up. Dipping into extreme endurance adventurer Sean’s blog and social media feeds is a stunning reminder that there’s a whole world out there to explore, limits to push and challenges to conquer – and the rewards in terms of bolstered wellbeing can be profound.
The first ever man in history to cycle, swim and run the length of Britain, Sean’s photos will make you want to dust off your walking boots and get outdoors. Even if you can realistically only get as far as the local park, hills or woodlands, and even if your challenge is a 5k or having a go at kayaking, it doesn’t matter; the point is you’ll feel so much better for it, physically and mentally.
5. Dalai Lama
He’s the most famous person on our list, but our fifth and final slot isn’t going to a film or pop star or in fact any ‘mainstream’ celeb – it’s going to the Dalai Lama.
The Tibetan spiritual leader is a global icon of wisdom and you don’t have to be Buddhist, or even religious at all, to appreciate his Twitter musings about the importance of simple core values like kindness and understanding, and how it’s the little things, being true to ourselves, and meaningful connections that make us happy.