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Men: Do You Need a Health Tune-Up?

Guys are notorious for skimping on self-care. But "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" doesn't work when it comes to your health. Here's what to do instead.

Exercise for Men continued...

Don't forget to do a few minutes of warm-ups prior to your workout. Walk, jog, or bike lightly to prep your muscles for more intense exercise. You should also add some stretching to your routine to improve your flexibility and athletic performance and lower your risk of injury.

Regular exercise lowers LDL "bad" cholesterol, protects against high blood pressure, wards off depression and stress, and helps you live longer. And by fending off those common problems, you won't have to crowd your medicine cabinet with prescription drugs. That, says Fields, has been a strong incentive for his male patients to start working out.

"If you can have a conversation about how they'll need fewer medications if they exercise, they will listen."

Men and Weight Control

Maintaining your proper weight is an essential part of staying healthy, and exercise alone won't do it, especially for men in their 40s and beyond.

"A lot of men only know how to control their weight by exercise, but as they are getting older, their metabolism is slowing down," says nutritionist Manuel Villacorta, RD, MS, CSSD, owner and founder of MV Nutrition in San Francisco as well as the web site eatingfree.com. "They may be eating the same amount of calories, but they are not burning it off as readily."

You can cut down on calories and still feel full by making sure you have plenty of whole-grain foods in your diet. The body takes longer to digest them, and that means more time between hunger pangs. Just don't put too much time between meals, says Villacorta, whose clients are mostly men. "Eating something healthy every three to four hours helps to keep up metabolism," he says.

Along with paying attention to what -- and how much -- you eat, Fields says it is essential to rethink what you drink. "Juices, for example, are really high in calories, as are sodas and alcohol. So I start with figuring out what [men] drink."

With alcohol, of course, you're watching more than just calories. Too much alcohol is bad for your liver as well as your waist. Villacorta says that for health reasons, men should not drink more than two servings a day. A serving means one beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. When it comes to weight loss, even less is ideal.

"My recommendation for men trying to lose weight is to keep it to seven servings per week," he says. Keep in mind that restaurants pour about six ounces of wine per glass, and cocktails usually consist of two or more shots, so you're looking at about four drinks per week if you are going out.

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