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
The latest guidelines say you need at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise five days a week. That means cardio training, whether it's walking fast, running, rowing, or biking -- anything that will make you sweat and get your heart really pumping. Strength training is important as well, so at least twice a week, add some weights, resistance bands, or body weight exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups to your routine.
But among guys who already exercise, says Fields, too many focus their efforts on lifting weights to the exclusion of everything else. "You see more guys in the weight room and more women doing cardio," says Fields. "The numbers should be equal."
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.