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5 Healthy New Year's Resolutions for Men

Experts share their thoughts on the top 5 things men can do to get healthy in the new year
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WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature

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.

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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 Exercise.

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 hiding them.

"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 elk."

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