According to a new study, a staggering 72 per cent of Canadian men have unhealthy lifestyles while only six per cent reported having no unhealthy habits, such as smoking cigarettes and not getting enough sleep.

The survey-based study was conducted for the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF): a national not-for-profit group that encourages healthier living for men and their families.

“When we see these health studies in the past, it’s usually disease-based,” CMHF program manager Joe Rachert told “This study is about behaviours versus diseases. So, it’s about the path instead of the destination.”

The study, which polled 2,000 Canadian men aged 19 to 94, looked at five key behaviours that can contribute to chronic diseases: smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, sleep and exercise.

“Seventy per cent of chronic health conditions in men are caused by behaviour,” Rachert explained. “So if we can change our behaviours, we can reduce the chronic diseases and conditions that we’re going to have later on in life.”

The study found that:

  • 61.8 per cent of Canadian men have unhealthy eating habits (i.e. too much salt, sugar and saturated fats plus not enough produce and healthy fats, such Omega-3).
  • 53.9 per cent have unhealthy sleeping behaviours (i.e. less than seven or more than nine hours per night).
  • 48.9 per cent do not exercise enough (i.e. less than 150 minutes per week).
  • 38.7 per cent have unhealthy drinking habits (i.e. more than 15 drinks per week , less than two alcohol-free days per week and binge drinking, which is more than six drinks in a sitting).
  • 19.6 per cent smoke cigarettes.

Those who reported having none of these unhealthy behaviours (5.9 per cent) were classified as “very healthy” and those who reported only one (21.9 per cent) were deemed “healthy.” Men who reported two unhealthy behaviours (30.8 per cent) were classified as “borderline” while those who reported three or more (41.5 per cent) were labelled “unhealthy.” In total, just over 72 per cent respondents were considered to be living unhealthy lifestyles, according to the CMHF.

“There’s a lot of unhealthy people out there,” Rachert said.

Still, Rachert cautioned that trying to change too many unhealthy habits in one go will set you up for failure.

“Pick the simplest thing you can do and go for it,” he advised. “Order half fries, half salad. If you go to a big box store… park at the back of the parking lot.”

The CMHF survey also found significant regional differences when it comes to Canadian men’s unhealthy habits.

Survey respondents in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, for example, reported the highest smoking rate (23.7 per cent) while British Columbia had the lowest (12.5 per cent). Interestingly, Saskatchewan and Manitoba also reported the lowest unhealthy drinking rate (33.6 per cent) while the highest was found in Quebec (43.1 per cent). Lack of exercise and unhealthy eating also varied widely, with 55 per cent of those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba reporting unhealthy exercise habits and 68.7 per in those same provinces reporting unhealthy eating practices. Albertans, by contrast, appear to be getting the most exercise (only 39.6 per cent reported doing less than 150 minutes a week) while British Columbians were eating the best (58.9 per cent reported unhealthy eating).

The survey results, which were released Monday, come at the start of CMHF’s annual Canadian Men’s Health Week awareness campaign, which runs until Father’s Day on June 17.