Aging is something none of us look forward to. For men, growing older is typically associated with weakness, dwindling muscle mass and a burgeoning waistline. Why are there such negative connotations associated with aging? Are the aforementioned side effects of aging inevitable or are they a result of lifestyle changes that occur as men grow older? Plenty of athletes have shown that men can maintain good health and muscle mass as they age. MMA fighter Randy Couture was the UFC heavyweight champion at age 44. Former Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre signed a two-year, $25-million contract when he was 39. Aging cannot be avoided, but there are things that men can do to maintain muscle mass and take care of their health.
Golden Rules for maintaining Health and preventing aging:
- Adults should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise per week. Regular aerobic exercise can help maintain and improve heart health, blood pressure, lung function, endurance and increase HDL, or “good cholesterol,” and lower LDL, or “Bad cholesterol”. There are a variety of low-impact aerobic exercises that are gentle on the joints such as walking, stationary bicycling, using the elliptical trainer, water aerobics and the rowing machine.
- Men should also resistance train each major group of muscles two to three times a week using a variety of exercises and equipment. Muscular strength and endurance exercises are important to help prevent muscle loss and maintain and improve a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living. Even though weight training is beneficial for men over 40, but light intensity exercise is best for older people or those just starting to exercise. Light intensity weight training includes using body weight exercises, free weights or machines. Many people find it helpful to work with a personal trainer to learn safe and effective exercise for their particular needs.
- Besides aerobic and resistance training exercises, men over 40 should stretch to maintain and increase flexibility. Flexibility is key in preventing falls and reduces risk of injury from aerobic and strength training exercises. It is recommended that men should stretch at least two to three days a week to improve range of motion and hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds to the point of slight discomfort or tightness and repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch.
- Balance is another thing men should work on as they age. As men grow older, they lose bone density, which makes it more likely for them to break a bone if they fall. One way to prevent that is by increasing balance. Improving your balance can help maintain your independence and prevent falls. Standing on one leg, using stability balls, doing single leg exercises and practicing yoga are great ways for men to improve balance.
- How do men avoid that dreaded “spare tire” around the waistline? The best way to lose or avoid excess fat is to follow a program that incorporates healthy eating, aerobic and strength training exercises. For men over the age of 40, juggling work and family responsibilities can make fitting in fitness seem like a daunting task. Time is one of the main issues that men in this age group complain about. Multiple shorter sessions of at least 10 minutes is acceptable to accumulate the desired amount of daily exercise.
- “Variety is the key,” “Don’t do something that you don’t like. Find something you like, and do it.” For men over 40, getting started with fitness is the key. There are many advantages to get active and making changes with your lifestyle. Some men may feel intimidated or overwhelmed at starting a fitness program later in life, but if they approach it slowly, they should be able to see results in maintaining good health and mobility as they age.
Achieving regular exercise and physical activity are important to physical health, as well as mental health
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