Let’s face it, healthier men live happier, longer lives, and physical activity can have a powerful impact on a man’s health.
Men who are active have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity, and some cancers. Unfortunately, that’s not always enough to keep us—yes, women too— from being sedentary for the better part of the day. With computers, TV, long commutes, and other sedentary activities, experiencing several butt-numbing moments each day is not all that uncommon, but it’s not good for our health. Being active is going to look different for each person, but simply put, if we sit less and move more, we’ll be improving our health on all fronts.
So let’s talk men’s fitness by answering a few key questions.
How much activity do men need?
- For overall health, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (30 min., 5 days/week) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (about 25 min., 3 days/week) per week.
- For even greater benefit, 300 minutes of moderate activity (60 min., 5 days/week) or 150 minutes of vigorous activity (30 min., 5 days/week) per week.
- Strength training exercises that target all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms) at least two days per week. Aim for 2-3 sets consisting of 8-12 repetitions per exercise.
Moderate-intensity exercises include things like walking, bicycling at 10-12 mph, or playing doubles tennis . Vigorous activity includes things like high intensity interval training, running, or playing basketball.
What types of exercise should men do?
A combination of cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility exercises that you enjoy; you’ll be more likely to stick with it if you do.
Here are some ideas from the men at Medifast:
- Martial Arts, like Jiu Jitsu
- Biking/Spin Class
- Flag Football
- Kayaking/Indoor Rowing
But how? Life’s too busy!
Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Consider these tips; they can help even the busiest person fit some activity into their day.
- Do 10-minute mini workouts. Break your workout into shorter sessions throughout the day; it can be just as effective!
- Involve the family. Play basketball, flag football, and soccer with your kids, or go for a walk after dinner.
- Make excuses to move. Look for opportunities to walk during the day (refill your water bottle, park farther away), keep weights at your desk (do a few reps as you read through emails), and stand more often (stand every time you take a phone call).
- Commit with others; they’ll hold you accountable. Sign up for a community sports league, like volleyball or hockey, go to the gym with a buddy, or try a group exercise class—they’re not just for women!
- Get outside. Mow the lawn, rake the leaves, wash the car, chop wood—all those manly chores are sure to keep you fit and healthy.
How should men fuel for exercise?
Carbohydrates are the best fuel for working muscles, while protein helps build and repair muscle tissue, so include a combination of the two before and after working out. Before working out, have a small meal or snack 1-2 hours in advance. Choose foods that you tolerate well; for many people, these are foods that are low in fat and fiber. After working out, have a nutrient-rich snack or meal within 15-60 minutes, like a Medifast smoothie or crunch bar, piece of fresh fruit with ½ – 1 oz of nuts, Greek yogurt, or low-fat cheese stick with fruit or vegetables. In addition, be sure to hydrate before, during, and after you exercise.
One of the most simple, positive changes you can make to effectively improve your health is to be physically active on a regular basis. Make a commitment to add a little more physical activity and a little less sedentary activity to your daily regimen. Start with small, realistic goals and increase the time and intensity of your workouts as you get stronger. Remember, you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great!