June is Men’s Health Month, let’s celebrate the vital, active, swaggering guys in our lives!
In April I joined Esquire Magazine’s Blue-Ribbon Commission on Aging with Strength and Valor. Our panel of docs talked about how men can get “stronger, faster, better … even if you have to get older.” We were full of insightful and irreverent ways for men to control their glory days. Here are some excerpts:
At this time in life your brawn may be your strong suit but your brains may not be. You feel amazing and want to push yourself to the limit. I love that. As a sports doc to hundreds of young athletes I love your bravado. My advice is to test your limits but just don’t abuse the luxury of youth. What you do now does affect you in the future so be smart.
Now is the time to build the strongest muscles, bones and endurance as a foundation for your future. Vary your activities so that all your body parts build strength. Get on the road, court, or playing field and bash your bones, build a better brain through aerobic exercise. Remember that what is good for your heart is good for your penis. Your mobility now matters. Enter races, contests, tournaments and prove to yourself that you are strong and courageous. Now is the time.
Don’t get distracted! This is the time in life when you are moving up the corporate ladder, forming lasting social relationships (including kids) and when your usual group of buddies has less time to play sports with you. Now your mobility matters even more! Don’t be that guy who shows up for his 20-year high school reunion looking like his dad!
Kill your gut with high-intensity circuit training and making your valuable time count in the gym. Three high-intensity workouts a week go a long way in keeping your waistline in check. Grab your tape measure and measure your waist. If you are creeping up towards 40 inches you are seriously damaging your long-term health and setting yourself up for future diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Stand up straight! Nothing makes you look more like an old man than a slouch! Roll back your shoulders, hold your head up high and engage your core (suck in your gut).
40 is PRIME time!
There is a myth out there that life is all downhill when you hit your 40s. Nothing could be further from the truth! Our 40s can be prime time … our bodies are not failing us … we are failing our bodies. As an orthopedic surgeon and researcher, I have published many studies that prove when we invest every day in staying strong we are capable of so much more than Hallmark and their 40th birthday RIP cards expect of us. In fact, many of the best endurance athletes in running and triathlon are in their late 30s and 40s.
No excuses! Do not accept the myth of slowing down!
The man in his 40s needs to F.A.C.E. his future with well-rounded workouts: F-flexibility daily with dynamic stretching, yoga, pilates, or even taking the time to stretch out before hitting the golf course. A-aerobic exercise of any kind at least 3 times a week. Take a day off between intense exercise to allow for regeneration of our muscles. I always say … be intense and then let it rest. C-carry a load. I purposefully do not say “lift weights”. I suggest functional resistance training using body weight, free weights, gravity, and the floor pushing back on you for the best total body strength. Finally, we need to practice E-equilibrium and balance every day. Stand on one foot while you brush your teeth or talk on the phone. Falling over is not very manly.
I love swaggering “older men.” A little grey hair, lots of vitality, the wisdom and life acumen that comes with experience … all packaged in a frame that is excellently maintained. Not every 50-year-old guy is like this, but every 50-year-old could be with attention to the details of aging. The fact is that 70% of how we age is determined by the little decisions we make every day … they add up.
For the man in his 50s I have these suggestions: If you have lost control of your aging it is not too late! Measure your waist, get off the couch, roll your shoulders back, stand straight, and make great decisions. If you have not been to the doctor’s office lately, make an appointment now and have your blood pressure, glucose level, cholesterol level, testosterone and PSA checked. Now is the time to have your first colonoscopy and to honestly think about your libido. Your penis is the dipstick of your health and if it is not the same as it was in your younger years, chances are your other plumbing is not either.
There is NEVER an age when you cannot take control of your health, regain your swagger and live the life you’ve envisioned.