Men’s health in the spotlight (40 years and older).
Men in their 40s
During your 40s “bad habits” of earlier years can come back to haunt you. Not taking care of your diet, lack of exercise, being exposed to the sun too much, and other habits, can become visible. However, it is never too late to make the necessary changes. Here are a few tips:
First stop is to go for regular check-ups (health screens);
Taking care of your teeth (going for check-ups every 6 months – a year; as recommended by your dentist);
Taking care of your eyes and going for check-ups every 1 – 2 years (or as recommended by your eye specialist);
Having your blood pressure and BMI checked, as well as cholesterol- and diabetes screening, will keep your mind at ease;
Having a baseline EKG and skin exam done;
Other tests, if recommended by your health practitioner, is colorectal cancer, testicular exam, and so forth.
Emotional- and mental fitness are just as important as physical fitness. Also make sure that you eat well, get enough sleep and take “time out” to just be in the moment! Many men in their 40s are settled in their careers and/or in a relationship. But it is still important to make time for yourself. To do something on your own that you enjoy. Whether it is going for a jog or reading a book, take some “me time” and recharge your batteries. Dr. Phil McGraw, many years ago, said that he always goes to the gym to play squash after work before he goes home. That way he not only gets rid of the stress of work, but it clears his head and, when he gets home, he can give his attention to his family.
Men in their 50s and older
By now you, hopefully, think of your life as a “vintage wine; tapped from fine old kegs.” You have been looking after yourself, you go for regular check-ups and am happy with your life in general. Now it is important to “dig deeper” and make sure that your “ticker” and cholesterol-levels are in a good state. Cardiovascular disease (also known as atherosclerosis), refers to the hardening of the arteries due to the build-up of cholesterol. This plague builds up in the arteries of the heart and brain and, when it becomes unstable, forms a blood clot, which causes a heart attack or stroke. It is interesting to note that cholesterol is not the problem. It is chronic, low-grade inflammation!
High levels of inflammation in the body form small tears on the lining of the arteries. Plaque (in the form of cholesterol) is sent, by the body, to “patch up” the tears. However, if the inflammation continues, so does the small tears and the build-up of cholesterol. The best thing to do for this condition is mild to moderate exercises and watching what you eat and how much. As mentioned in my previous article, processed foods can cause havoc when eaten too much and too often. Not only is there many hidden sugars and salt in, but often omega-6. Omega-6 is not bad, but in excess it is pro-inflammatory; whilst omega-3 is anti-inflammatory!
Erectile dysfunction is another issue and can happen to men 40 years and older. Speak to your health practitioner about this, because it often happens due to the hardening of the arteries and/or stress.
Another thing that can stick its head out is joint pain / discomfort. Overuse due to sports or injuries can play a key role. If it becomes a problem have it looked at. Make sure that the exercises you do are not making it worse. Jogging is something that many people love, but it is also one of the sports that can cause knee- and/or hip pain due to the impact on the joints. If you jog, for example, and there is a feeling of numbness or pain in your knee, hip, leg or back, have it looked at. Walking fast, cycling and swimming are good alternatives to jogging. So too is Rebounding (as mentioned in a previous article). Again, whatever you do to keep fit, always remember to warm up and cool down / stretch properly afterwards. 5 – 10 minutes of warm-up and 10 minutes (at least) for stretching, is important.
Osteoporosis is something that usually occurs as we age, but it can also develop at a younger age. This usually occurs due to a lack of vitamin D and hormonal changes; when the bones (usually in the hip, wrist and spine) become brittle and fragile due to the loss of tissue. In the beginning it starts off as Osteopenia – the protein and mineral content of the bone reduces. Bone tissue is constantly being broken down and replaced. However, when the rate of replacement does not keep up with the rate of being broken down, osteoporosis occurs. Doctor Sanua believes that osteoporosis is on the increase due to poor-quality diet, lack of exercise and high insulin-levels. A high intake of processed carbohydrates and sugars (junk food and ready-made meals), as well as the overuse of antacids and the side-effects of certain medications like thyroid medication, can all play a huge role in the development of osteoporosis.
Question: what to do to minimize your chances and/or not develop it at all?
Firstly: look at your diet. Instead of going on a strict diet, eat a balanced meal, making sure you eat the right amounts of all the food groups.
Secondly: get up and move! It is vital to keep your body flexible and strong. After the age of 30 both men and women start to lose bone-density. When you exercise, use light – medium hand weights, a Pilates ball or do any other weight-bearing exercises to help you build and maintain strong bone-density.
Thirdly: make sure that you get enough calcium, magnesium and potassium in. If you are taking a supplement, make sure that it has calcium and magnesium in one tablet. Calcium cannot be absorbed by the body unless it is taken in conjunction with magnesium. Taking this at night is also better as the body absorbs it much easier.
Fourthly: do not drink more than 2 alcoholic-beverages per day, as alcohol can deplete your body of the necessary minerals, etc, it needs, it dehydrates you and it can increase your chances of developing osteoporosis.
Whether you are in your 20s, 50s, 60s or older, remember that “movement is life” and that “you are what you eat.” So, to all the men out there, keep up the good work of taking care of yourself in a holistic way. And if you’ve been slacking a little bit, it is ok! We all did during winter!
One is never too old to start, never too old to change, and never too old to learn!
By: Ezette Viljoen (Health & Fitness Editor)