Health Tips for Men
It’s not only what you put into your body that counts. Working with your body is important, too.
By Christine Hennessey
Strong Body, Strong Mind.
If you’re young, the chances are high that your main reason for working out is to look good. A six-pack and a broad chest are all the motivation you need to hit the gym and pump some iron. As you get older, however, priorities shift. You get comfortable in a relationship. You start a family and have less time for yourself. You hear that the “dad bod” is finally in and immediately cancel your gym membership.
While these reasons are valid and understandable (except for that last one – I’m pretty sure the “dad bod” craze has already passed) strength training is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and the benefits only increase as you age. According to a recent study from the University of New Mexico, lifting weights can even strengthen the most important muscle of all – your brain. Researchers found that strength training improved several aspects of cognition in healthy older adults, including a marked improvement in memory and memory-related tasks. A regular strength training routine was also found to reduce anxiety and depression. While you won’t be able to admire these kinds of results in a mirror, they’re absolutely worth reaping.
Sleep Like a Baby.
According to the CDC, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep. If you don’t catch enough Zs it can have an adverse effect on your life, and adding an extra shot of espresso to your latte is only a temporary solution. Sleep deprivation, which includes both lack of sleep and sleeping at the wrong time of day (hello, night shift!) is associated with a number of conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Despite the fact that sleeping is important and enjoyable most of us aren’t getting enough, and at least part of the blame can be placed on our smartphones.
Where do you keep your phone when you sleep? If you’re part of the vast majority of Americans, the answer is your bedside table. What’s the last thing you do before you go to sleep? Again, if you’re like most people, the answer is scrolling through your phone, whether you’re checking Facebook or reading emails. Unfortunately, this habit can keep you awake, and not because you’re too riled up about your cousin’s latest political post to fall asleep.
Smartphones and tablets emit what’s known as “blue light,” a unique shade that tells your brain morning has arrived and it’s time to get up. To help you relax before bed, fall asleep faster, and snooze more soundly, leave the electronics in another room and unwind instead with a paperback.
Boost Testosterone Naturally.
Having adequate levels of testosterone is an excellent way to increase your quality of life. It boosts muscle, burns body fat, improves your mood, helps you sleep, keeps your libido humming, and increases your energy. Unfortunately, after the age of 30, most men begin to experience a gradual decline in their testosterone.
Some doctors may advise testosterone replacements if levels are dangerously low. Before you start taking medications, however, there are a number of natural remedies that can help get your levels up. Adding more healthy fats, such as avocados, egg yolks, coconut oil, and red meat, can be beneficial, not to mention delicious. A zinc supplement can also help the body produce more testosterone. If you’re an endurance athlete, changing up your routine and adding shorter, more intense workouts is worth a shot, as is going to bed earlier and getting more sleep. You may notice that many of these strategies are also great tips for anyone trying to live a healthier life, which makes sense – that which benefits one aspect of your health naturally benefits them all.
Kick Back and Relax.
So far, we’ve focused on physical ways men can improve their health. While these strategies are effective and important, there’s another aspect of health that’s just as essential – mental health. In today’s fast paced world, men deal with all kinds of stress, whether it’s work related, family related, or caused by relationships. Often when things go wrong, we respond in ways that can actually exacerbate the situation, like overeating, drinking to excess, or binge watching The West Wing on Netflix. While these solutions might feel good in the moment, knowing healthy ways to handle stress is better in the long run.
One of these strategies is meditation. According to yoga teacher Brandon L. Hawks, the practice of clearing your mind is a key piece of the healthy living puzzle. “Meditation provides a much needed reprieve from the human psyche; the experiences, the observations, the learned behaviors and the interpretations thereof that narrow our perceptions of the possibilities of the infinite,” he explains. “In more tangible terms, meditation induces the relaxation response, reduces stress and leads to better health within various systems of the body, such as the cardiovascular and immune systems.” In other words, it’s good for you.
Know Your Strengths.
Health and fitness isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. While the same basic principles will apply to all human bodies, the things that work best for one individual might not be as effective for another. It all depends on your personal preferences, your schedule, your history, and your background. That’s why education is so important – as you learn about and explore the options, you’re more likely to form the habits and routines that work for you. Then, like the classic cars men love so much, you can brag that you’re in mint condition and actually mean it.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important and effective way to lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure. The following workouts will torch calories and keep you trim and active.
Swimming: 500 to 800 calories per hour
Running: 550 to 900 calories per hour
Tennis: 600 to 900 calories per hour
Cycling: 500 to 700 calories per hour
Weight lifting: 400 to 500 calories per hour
Yoga: 250 to 350 calories per hour
Kettlebell: up to 400 calories in 20 minutes
Jumping rope: 10 calories per minute