The new year is a time many men rethink their lives and make plans to get
their health back on track. Are you one of them?
At least 40% of adults make one or more resolutions each year, and at least
two-thirds of them vow to change something unhealthy about themselves,
according to a small study conducted by John C. Norcross, PhD, professor of
psychology at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. The popular
resolutions concern weight gain, fitness, and smoking.
You walk into Home Depot or Lowe's to pick up a lightbulb. Instead, you
leave with some new flooring, a circular saw, a framing square, and big ideas
about re-tiling your kitchen.
The problem? You've never done anything more than change a lightbulb by
Growing numbers of Americans are tackling do-it-yourself home improvement
projects that once might have been left to professionals. One reason for the
shift: Stores like Home Depot, along with TV shows on networks like HGTV or the
WebMD examined these common objectives and added a couple more that men
might want to consider in their pursuit of good health. We then asked health
experts to offer advice on how best to approach the resolutions for maximum
success. Consider their suggestions, and see what works for you. Good luck!
New Year's Resolution No. 1: Get Fit
When men want to get fit, they tend to aim for weight loss in the stomach
area and muscular definition in the biceps, chest, and abdominals, says Cedric
Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on
To achieve these goals, men do little cardiovascular exercise, and a lot of
resistance training -- a strategy that Bryant says is not ideal.
"Men need to participate in a balanced exercise program where they are
involved in strength training that is for all the major muscle groups. They
need to participate in some aerobic exercise, because that's going to help them
to expend energy and burn calories," says Bryant, who also notes that good
nutrition is crucial to fitness success. "You need the whole package if you
want to get optimal results."
For instance, a man who performs many abdominal exercises may become
frustrated because he is not able to obtain the "washboard abs" he
desires. He may well have beautiful, washboard abs, but a layer of fat may be
"Until you lose body weight and body fat overall, people aren't going to
see the fruits of your labor," says Bryant. He says there's no such thing
as spot reducing -- targeting certain areas of the body for fat and weight
loss. When people lose weight, it usually comes off all over the body.
To get rid of the flab and pounds, Jean Bonhomme, MD, MPH, a member of the
board of directors for the Men's Health Network, suggests choosing an enjoyable
physical activity, even if it is not a traditional workout.
The idea is to move the body, doing anything from running, hiking, walking,
or martial arts.
With any new or renewed activity, it is important to start slowly, gradually
raising intensity. Starting out at a level that is too aggressive could cause
pain, injury, and a sense of dejection.
New Year's Resolution No. 2: Watch What You Eat
Meat and potatoes have somehow been associated with manly men. "For some
men, it's a macho thing to eat a lot of red meat," says Bonhomme.
"We're supposed to be the hunters, and we bring home the deer and the