As a species, there are few natural enemies we have to fear. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. For men, the worst enemies are the ones we can’t see, such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attack, high cholesterol, prostate cancer, colon cancer, infertility, depression, diabetes, midsection weight gain and erectile dysfunction. Sounds horrible, right? But there’s no need to get overly concerned. You may be able to decrease your risk of developing these conditions simply by adding a few exercises to your daily schedule.
When we refer to exercise, it can mean two types: cardiovascular training and resistance training. In combination, these two forms of physical activity can provide an array of positive health benefits for men.
Aerobic exercise is when you use your large muscle groups in a rhythmic fashion for an extended period of time such as cycling, jogging, vigorous walking or any other type of activity performed at a moderate intensity.
Resistance training, also known as weight lifting, refers to forced muscular contraction using some type of equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, bands, or even your own body weight.
The following exercises can help you defend against common male health concerns:
: Squeezing through some traditional crunches or back extensions is a great way to strengthen your core. You can also perform an isolation exercise such as the plank, which works your entire core including your internal abdominals, arms, back and legs. Core training improves your body composition. Body composition refers to your lean mass to body fat ratio. It helps build muscle and reduce body fat by elevating your metabolism. Decreasing your body fat percentage may slash your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, midsection weight gain, as well as infertility and erectile dysfunction.
: Every man knows what this exercise is, yet many of us have a weak upper body along with bad posture. Push ups can be difficult if you’re a beginner, but the best way to improve is to start incorporating them in your workouts and increasing your repetitions as you get better. Only increase your repetitions if you’re able to complete the push up with proper form and timing. Resistance training may also decrease your risk of developing colon cancer since it improves gastric emptying time, which means food stays in your digestive tract for a shorter period of time, resulting in less putrefaction and free-radical damage.
: If you want to challenge your fitness level with the best exercise, try walking, jogging or running up hills. There’s sure to be a hill or mountain somewhere in your area. If not, don’t come with excuses – take the stairs instead. While the scenery isn’t quite as spectacular, you’ll still be getting the health and fitness advantages by walking or running up and down a long staircase. There’s an endless list of benefits that comes with cardiovascular exercise. Active men have a lower mortality rate than sedentary men. Cardio helps fight off diseases related to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke and high blood pressure.
: A lack of upper body strength is commonly associated to women, not men. Yet surprisingly enough, many men can’t even support their own body weight with their arms! You must strengthen your upper body muscles to get by daily tasks, such as lifting heavy objects, without injuring yourself. In primitive days, this sort of movement was considered a basic necessity for survival in the wild. But over time, we’ve evolved to become weaker and sedentary. Pull ups and chin ups help build muscular arms and a strong back. These types of regular exercise can lower your blood pressure and resting heart rate, which also reduces stress and the development of correlated health problems such as heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure.
: These well-rounded exercises are great to target various muscles all at once; they work your hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus, calves, abdominals and back. Squats and lunges, along with other resistance exercises, can stimulate the natural release of your growth hormone. The primary role of this hormone acts to stimulate muscle mass and loss of body fat. Squats and lunges performed at high intensity are great ways to increase your secretion of growth hormone. With greater muscle mass and lower body fat percentage, you’ll be burning more calories and you’ll be decreasing your risk of health conditions associated with obesity.
While these specific exercises are fantastic and potentially life-saving, any type of exercise you do is beneficial to your overall health. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you fall victim to illness. Take action now! You have the power to control your well being and ward off your enemies – all you have to do is exercise it.