Posted on Jun 12, 2020, 1 p.m.
There may be no better time than now for men who put their own health on the sidelines to take stock of their current personal health, fitness and general well being.
High blood pressure, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle are some of the risk factors for heart disease which currently tops the list as a man killer in America. Cholesterol and fat can build up in blood vessels with time, and when the arteries that supply the brain/heart become clogged it increases the odds of experiencing a stroke or heart attack.
Luckily these risk factors can be reduced by living a healthy lifestyle; while there may be no firm cure all but when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle nutrition and exercise can reduce the risks for a wide range of serious health complications and diseases.
“If there was a medication available today that could accomplish all of the health benefits that exercise provides nearly everyone would be on it,” said Dr. Christopher Romero, an internal medicine specialist. “Regular exercise is one of the single most important factors for improving overall health, and has been shown to increase life expectancy.”
Physical exercise can help to keep the blood vessels open to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. It can have positive effects on cholesterol by lowering the levels of bad cholesterol while increasing the levels of good cholesterol. Exercise also decreases the amount of fat in the bloodstream, assists in weight loss/management, and helps to make your heart and lungs work more efficiently.
Walking, dancing, jogging, swimming, tennis, cycling, stair climbing and other activities of at least moderate intensity can help to prevent or manage several chronic diseases that have been shown to become more common with age such as arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. The mind and body can benefit from exercise which also helps to manage stress levels, and this may make life a little more enjoyable, boost self image, improve confidence, as well as helping to counter anxiety and depression while releasing those feel good endorphins.
“Significant improvements in overall health can be achieved with even the most modest increase in activity,” Romero said. “The key is starting with simple, achievable goals that when combined over time can turn into really great results.”
Both the CDC and the American Heart Association recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity 4-5 times a week, with moderate to high intensity muscle strengthening activity at least 2 days per week.
In addition to exercise it is important to remember the importance of nutrition and following a healthy balanced diet. Most men tend to ignore their emergent health issues, chronic conditions, and scheduled screenings, especially now in the midst of a pandemic.
“If men delay care because of fear of COVID-19, their problems being ignored can often get worse and lead to worse outcomes, sometimes even death. We have known for a very long time that for serious injuries, heart attacks, strokes, and other major health emergencies getting treatment as soon as the possible makes all the differences,” said Romero. “Often when medical problems are able to be treated early they can have much better outcomes than if treatment is delayed. For example, being seen as soon as possible after the onset of a stroke can potentially mean the difference between being able to walk out of the hospital and being permanently disabled.”
If you are looking to become more active try to choose activities that you will enjoy, studies show that people tend to stick with activities they find fun. Remember you may not be the best right away, but you will improve as your endurance gradually builds. Try not to over do it as this will increase the risk of injury and burnout. Don’t ignore any pain in the joints, ankles, feet, or legs. Make sure that you drink plenty of water, especially in hot and humid conditions as well as when experiencing any feelings of thirst.
Before beginning any exercise routine it may be best to consult with your physician or certified medical professional to avoid the possibility of any complications, especially if you have been inactive for a long time or have a chronic health problem. The consultation may help you to develop plans for living a healthier lifestyle which also includes a healthy diet, keeping stress levels in check and getting adequate amounts of sleep.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.