Exercise for Health Optimization: What Men Should Know
The beneficial effects of regular exercise for men’s health optimization and disease treatment are unquestionable. Unfortunately, some view exercise as punishment, a necessary evil allowing them more diet flexibility, or an unprioritized “nice-to-have.”
To some, exercise may be all of those, but to all, exercise should be viewed as one of the most powerful medicines available.
Love it or loathe it, to keep your body and mind in perfect harmony, exercise is a must. It’s beneficial to your physical health, but it doesn’t end there. Vigorous exercise can help men maintain a healthy weight but can also help to control other beneficial functions such as regulating hormone levels and relieving stress.
How Powerful is Exercise?
The list would be endless, but here’s an interesting fact. A meta-analysis of over 300 randomized controlled trials found that exercise was just as effective as heart disease or diabetes drugs and was more effective than currently available drugs for recovery after a stroke.
If exercise is medicine, find the minimum dosage needed to elicit the desired effects. You can go above that minimum, of course, and for exercise, there are plenty of reasons why you should, but let’s start with the lowest dose required. For men new to working out, it’s best to start slowly to not do any damage from changing to a less sedentary lifestyle.
Some of the many benefits of a regular exercise routine include:
· improved sleeping patterns,
· increased self-esteem,
· weight loss,
· and increased strength.
Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins and serotonin, which can incredibly benefit your mental health. Focusing on your fitness helps to reduce negative thinking, and as you improve your physical health, there’s the added benefit of reducing stress, anxiety, and even depression.
Before starting a vigorous exercise routine, you may want to consult with your men’s healthcare professional to ensure that you’re healthy enough to take on a physical challenge. This is mostly for men with a history of heart or respiratory issues and those with other conditions. Guys who are merely out of shape with no known health issues can dive in slowly.
The Exercise Trifecta
Guys who haven’t done much exercise could have difficulty knowing exactly where to start or what to do. Starting slow if you’re out of shape is a great way to begin an exercise routine to optimize your health. Vigorous walks, some jumping jacks, and pushups are wonderful suggestions for beginners. However, if you truly want to improve your mind and body, this exercise trifecta is much more beneficial.
Incorporating these three workout routines, you’ll have a more well-rounded exercise routine. This trifecta of exercises helps improve your overall health and fitness by targeting three workouts; cardio training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and weight lifting.
Let’s take an in-depth look at each.
Cardio training consists of a steady, continuous rhythmic exercise (jogging, swimming, biking) over 15 minutes in length that produces a constant demand on the body. Once you set your pace, your heart rate, breathing, and exertion remain relatively stable.
*Scientifically speaking, regular endurance exercise increases mitochondrial number/density and efficiency.
· Cardio training pushes your body’s circulatory system to remove waste, distribute nutrients, and operate efficiently.
· It reduces the risk of chronic illnesses, cardiovascular diseases, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancers.
However, it doesn’t help to build muscle or increase muscle strength.
Fifteen minutes with a steady heart rate zone between 60–75% of HRmax 2x per week.
HITT Combined with Weight Lifting
High-intensity interval training is a short exercise interval that requires high demands on your body to move something quickly. The activity could be you moving your body or an external force. Sprinting, burpees, or moving a barbell cause a sudden, sharp rise in heart rate, breathing, and exertion.
Why are HIIT and weight lifting lumped together in the definition portion? They’re more similar than different, stimulating similar physiological responses and muscle recruitment. The sample program below distinguishes how to incorporate both within your weekly health plan. Combining these two exercise routines can help to kill two birds with one stone.
· Weight lifting increases muscle size and the collective force it can produce by causing slight tears in the muscle, triggering a hormone response to repair those muscle tears, all while “rewiring” your central nervous system. It also helps to improve your body composition of fat to muscle, helping you to look your best.
· High-intensity interval training boosts your resting metabolic rate (calories your body burns during rest), which is perfect for shedding unwanted weight. This type of training can also increase your bone density, joint elasticity, and joint/muscle range of motion.
Generally speaking, it can indirectly improve your cardiovascular system to some degree. However, it’s not considered a true cardio workout.
One minute of intense exercise in a training lasting 10 minutes total (the warm-up and cool down), 3x times per week.
The Benefits of Flexibility Training
Men looking for more than the trifecta of exercises already discussed should consider incorporating flexibility training in their already-established workout routine. Most guys who are new to exercise overlook the importance of remaining agile. Flexibility training consists of various stretching exercises to help you become more limber and have a greater range of movement. Yoga can be considered a form of flexibility training.
Stretching exercises are best done after a workout. After strenuous activity, your muscles are pumped with blood and are warmer than usual, which causes them to be a bit more flexible than during times of rest. Although stretching and loosening up your muscles before working out is common, it’s best to perform a flexibility training routine after a workout routine.
The benefits of stretching and improving your flexibility are many.
· Better flexibility can greatly improve your workouts and can help in avoiding injuries.
· Other benefits include an increase in blood flow to the muscles, which can help during both strenuous activities and also during the muscle healing process.
· Improving your range of motion has advantages that can help you not only in your exercise routine but also in your everyday activities.
Flexibility training, however, will not improve your physical endurance or build muscle mass or strength.
Ten minutes of stretching two to three times a week are required to see any improvement in your range of motion and flexibility.
The Benefits of Balance Training
Balance training can be defined as any activity that requires you to control your balance. Even the simple act of walking requires balance but isn’t considered a balancing exercise.
· Activities like balancing on one leg for 30 seconds or more or walking heel to toe for short distances will test and train your balance.
· Other activities to improve your balance include tai chi and yoga. For those men with good balance, slackline training is a good way to up your game.
Balance training can be done at any time and in any place.
Any time you have a few spare minutes, consider testing your balance by standing on one leg and seeing how long you can do so without losing balance. Improving one’s balance can create a stronger understanding of body awareness while also helping to limit falling injuries due to quicker reaction times and better balance. Body coordination will improve, and there’ll be a slight increase in body strength.
This type of training won’t increase muscle mass or endurance.
Improving your balance should be done at least a few times a week. Try balancing exercises whenever you have a free moment for the quickest improvement.
Other Benefits of Exercise for Men
Regular exercise is needed to maintain good health in all aspects of a man’s life. Maintaining fitness has obvious benefits, but several aspects aren’t immediately apparent. Fitness training is usually started for guys looking to improve their appearance by adding muscle mass or losing unwanted pounds, but those aren’t the only benefits.
All men can build their best lives by adding physical activities regardless of age or ability. Some often overlooked benefits of exercise include:
- Reducing health risks – Moderate weekly exercise reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Men in good shape are less likely to be obese or develop serious illnesses and conditions. Flexibility training can help to reduce the likelihood of arthritis.
- Improvement in daily activities – Increasing muscle strength, flexibility, and balance can help to eliminate injuries due to weakness, imbalances, and flexibility. This is especially important for older men. Cardio training can help with everyday activities such as climbing stairs or participating in sports.
- Mental health improvements – Exercise is a wonderful way to improve mental health without prescription medications. Vigorous weekly exercise can help to reduce insomnia, depression, and anxiety. As you see your fitness improvements grow comes a boost to self-esteem.
What Men Should Know About Exercise: Final Words
For some guys, exercise can be a healthy addiction that builds rather than destroys. For others, it’s a necessary chore to be put off until later. Whichever category you fall into, the fanatic or the procrastinator, it is one of the keys to optimizing your health.
Incorporating an exercise routine into your weekly schedule is necessary for men looking to achieve their best lives. Whether in young adulthood or much older, exercise is crucial. Movement is life, and the effects of a sedentary lifestyle are far-reaching. Exercise not only improves your physical appearance but also benefits your emotional health.Guys looking to improve their lives in a variety of ways should consider starting a regular exercise routine incorporating the trifecta of exercises of cardio, high-intensity interval training, and weight lifting. Those looking for a well-rounded workout should also add flexibility and balance training. Consult with your men’s health professional to see how you can optimize your health.