We've all seen, admired and possibly resented the images on television and huge advertising hoardings. The sculptured, taut bodies of beautiful men, sporting a six pack like a rippling badge of manliness. This, according to the marketing world is what 'real men' look like. Attaining what may seem like the impossible male physique can make some men give up before they start. However there's more to being in peak physical condition than simply looking good, so even if an Adonis-like body is out of reach, there are many other fitness pluses for men.
While more men seem to be taking an interest in their appearance, there's plenty of men who are more couch potato than hot tamale. And even if the media world gives us a distorted and unhealthy view of men's bodies, there are many important benefits to exercise than just looking good in your underwear. Even a moderate amount of exercise can improve your life and mental health considerably, giving all men good reason to work some gym time and fitness sessions into their schedule.
If, like so many of us these days, you work at a job that keeps you sedentary, you are at risk of contracting life-threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer. You can fight this by keeping fit in your spare time to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as reduce the risk of strokes. Aerobic exercise also increases the amount of good cholesterol in the blood, and improves the function of your heart and lungs.
Increase energy levels
Feeling sluggish, grumpy and barely able to struggle through the day? If you start exercising, you are giving a boost to your energy levels as you pump more oxygenated blood around your body. You'll feel more alive and alert due to endorphins released into your body. Regular exercise means you'll tend to sleep better at night, giving you more energy for the day too.
Slow skeletal aging
We tend to think of fitness and gyms as being about fighting fat and building muscles. However, regular exercise is essential to maintain bone density. This is vital as your bones play an important role in keeping you standing up,whether you are fat, thin, young, or old. Weight bearing exercise helps to increase your bone density and it is especially important after the age of 40 when you lose 0.5% of bone mass annually.
Reduce muscle loss
As you age you start to lose your muscle mass, (some 25% by the time you are 70), which means you will find it increasingly hard to perform everyday functions. But with vigorous exercise, you can increase your muscle mass and minimize these effects of aging. Building muscle mass helps strengthen connective tissues, improve balance and burn excess calories. If you work out a proper weight program, you can even continue to get the fat-fighting benefits, for hours after you exercise.
Battle medical bills
Health and happiness are, of course, priceless but medical bills and insurance can be costly for individuals and businesses. With regular exercise and an improved diet, you can considerably reduce health insurance premiums and the amount spent on medications. Healthy people have fewer reasons to visit the doctor and are less prone to long term serious illness such as diabetes and heart disease
Improve mental clarity
The best anyone can hope for is a healthy body and a healthy mind. A decent exercise program can actually help you to achieve both. The increased circulation that exercise brings helps send oxygen and glucose-enriched blood to your brain and takes away any waste products. Research from the the Franklin Institute also shows that exercise can promote the growth of blood vessels around the brain and stimulate synapses, improving memory and increasing the production of new brain cells.
Improve sexual health
Being out of shape not only makes you feel 'undesirable', it can also affect your performance in the bedroom. When you are in shape you have more stamina and your body is more flexible. When men enjoy improved circulation there is also less chance of suffering erectile dysfunction.
Boost immune system
The more you exercise, the more your body is able to produce antibodies, which are a type of protein that react to viruses and bacteria. Regular exercise increases production of antibodies by up to 300%, as well as infection-killing T-cells. It is thought that even half an hour gentle walking a day can boost your immune system.
Look and feel better
Exercise may not necessarily turn the average man into looking like a male supermodel but it will still do wonders for the looks. You lose weight, walk taller, improve your skin tone and generally increase your chances of living a longer, healthier life. The fact that you feel better and more confident about how you look, combined with the stress relieving effects of exercise and improved sleep patterns, means you feel both more relaxed and more energetic. The perfect combination for living life to the full.
How much to do?
To get these benefits and to really make a difference to your health, fitness experts and trainers recommend doing at least two and a half hours of exercise a week. It is also advisable to try about three physical activities a week and the mix your aerobic exercise with some sort of muscle strengthening work to enjoy the best results. You'll feel better about yourself and best of all, it gets you away from the television and all those interminable ads screening attractive male models that make you feel like your fitness efforts are futile!
Have you benefitted from bringing a bit of fitness into your life? Why not get in touch and share your story. It may even inspire others to get in shape.