These Guys Did Battle With Mosquitos. And Won. And Now You Can Too

Men's Health |

Have you been wondering about something? We tackle everyday questions all guys face at some stage.

Why are mosquitoes more attracted to me than to other people?

If those mosquitoes could talk, they’d probably say “Smells like food to us!” followed by “Our dinner is named Mike?” The indictable aromas: carbon dioxide, which some people naturally produce and exhale more of, and lactic acid, which builds up after a tough workout, says Jonathan Day, a professor of medical entomology at the University of Florida. In addition to being supersniffers – mozzies can smell humans from almost 20 metres away – these pests also possess highly evolved heat sensors. That means if your body temperature runs in the above-normal range, they’ll be mothlike in their attraction to you. Then there’s your wardrobe: sporting dark colours by day or bright ones at night will make you stand out. So try moving into the shade (to lower your body temp) and talking less (to reduce the CO2 you’re spewing). When you’re tired of chilling out, bust out the bug spray. HHL Vital Protection AM2 (R220 for 220ml, can make your clothes mosquito-unfriendly for three months.

I constantly replay bad or embarrassing memories in my head. – Tshepo

At the risk of adding “that one time I wrote to Men’s Health” to your lousy-experience loop, this isn’t exactly typical behaviour. “Most of the time you should be able to reflect on the event and move on,” says Elizabeth Kensinger, a professor of psychology at Boston College. “It shouldn’t be the case that nearly everything reminds you of bad moments from the past.” The next time you find yourself running on the rumination wheel, grab a good friend’s ear and talk about how the memory makes you feel. Are you angry? Frustrated? Humiliated that you bared your  soul to the biggest men’s magazine in the country?

“Verbalizing what we’re experiencing can sometimes help us control our emotions, minimizing the impact a past bad event has on us in the present,” says Kensinger. If that doesn’t work, it’s possible that your obsessive thinking is a symptom of an underlying anxiety issue, in which case, it’s time to see a professional psychologist.

Why do I yawn when I exercise? – Sergio

Because you’re Hulk-huge and working out is mere child’s play? Probably not. It’s more likely that your brain is trying to cool down mid-workout, says Dr Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philedelphia. When you exercise, your head heats up, causing your brain to operate less efficiently. Every time you yawn, though, you suck in extra O₂, which boosts blood flow to your brain and helps reduce the temperature. The result: you’re able to exercise longer and more effectively, Newberg says. Now, if you find yourself yawning almost every other rep, you could be sleep deprived. If that’s the case, take a rest day – and literally rest.

I’ve heard conflicting advice: should I take aspirin for heart health or not? – Khaya

That depends on whether your blood pump is actually in peril or you’re just being cautious. If you have coronary heart disease or already suffered a heart attack or stroke, low-dose aspirin can serve as cheap artery insurance, says Dr Ravi Hira, a cardiology expert. A 2009 meta-analysis in The Lancet concluded that patients who popped a low dose of aspirin every day had a nearly 20% lower chance of having a second stroke or heart attack than those who didn’t follow an aspirin regimen. Credit the little white pill’s ability to reduce the body’s production of prostaglandins, lipids that promote blood clotting.

But for everyone else, the need for a daily dose depends on one’s risk of a future infarction. Go to and enter your age, weight, height, glucose levels (in milligrams) and systolic blood pressure into the Framingham Risk Calculator, a tool that predicts your chance of having a heart attack in the next decade. If your 10-year risk is higher than 6%, ask your doctor about making aspirin your ally, says Hira. But if your risk is 6% or lower, keep the cap on the bottle – the benefits of daily aspirin don’t outweigh the potential dangers. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that aspirin’s blood-thinning properties can increase the risk of stomach or brain bleeding.

I think it’s time to take my dad’s car keys away. What’s the safest way to approach the subject? – Fergus

Start with three words: “I am worried.” This puts the focus on you, making it less likely that your pop will feel ambushed, says David Solie, a teacher and author of How to Say It to Seniors: Closing the Communication Gap with Our Elders. Mention that the fear he had when you first started driving is how you feel whenever he gets behind the wheel now. Then gently point out any issues that may have put him and others at risk on the road. Has his eye-hand coordination or reaction time slowed? Is his vision impaired? How’s his hearing these days? If he doesn’t take it well, ask him, “How will you know when it is time to stop driving?”

This may make him pause and consider the consequences, says Solie. But if your opinions still collide, seek outside help, like asking his doctor to talk to him directly, suggests Solie. No one likes a backseat driver but your dad may take his physician’s (objective) advice more seriously than his (emotional) son’s. Once he’s ready to hand over the keys, make a plan that will allow him to stay mobile via public transportation or a car service.

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