Men give many excuses for why they don’t exercise, but there
are just as many reasons why they should. To name a few: Regular exercise
reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes,
and obesity. It keeps joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. It contributes
to mental well-being, relieves stress and anxiety, and even helps combat
depression. Exercise boosts energy and improves sleep. And, of course, it helps
you maintain a healthy weight.
In order to benefit from your effort, follow the exercise
guidelines of the American Heart Association, American Council on Exercise, and
the American College of Sports Medicine, and aim to exercise at least two-and-a-half
hours (150 minutes) a week. Of course, you don’t have to do it all in one or
two days. In fact, you’ll do your heart more good if you exercise on most days
of the week; ideally, you will never go more than two days in a row without
exercising. If you have been sedentary or haven’t exercised very regularly for
a while, begin by exercising three or more times a week for 20 minutes or more,
and work up from there.
Make it a habit.
The people who are the most successful with exercise
programs make it a regular habit. Some even go as far as making appointments
for exercise and writing them in a calendar, just like any other commitment. If
you do well with goals, then look for an event, such as a 10K run or a 50-mile
bike ride, sign up, and then train for it. There are dozens of online resources
that can help.
After you start, periodically check your progress to see how
you’re doing. Can you walk farther in 20 minutes than you could when you
started? Are your heart rate and your blood pressure lower?
Cover all the bases.
A complete exercise program includes aerobic exercise
(walking, running, cycling, or swimming), strength training, and flexibility
training. Building muscle not only makes it easier and more fun to do your
favorite activities, but it also boosts your metabolism to help you maintain a
healthy weight. Whether you prefer a regimen of body weight exercises, such as
pushups, lunges, squats, crunches, etc., or like to use free weights or weight
machines, be sure to do exercises that strengthen every major muscle group:
chest, upper back, lower back, arms, shoulders, abdominals, buttocks, and legs.
Finally, don’t forget to stretch. Stretching is the most
neglected part of most exercise programs, but it’s important for injury
prevention because it relieves muscle tension and soreness. The best way to
stretch is to take a deep breath and slowly exhale as you stretch. When you
feel tension in the muscle you are stretching, stop, and hold for 15–30
seconds. Relax, and repeat. Stretching is also something you can do every day
to help you relax.