Guys: 5 Changes for Better Health
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Sure, you know you probably should get healthier but the very thought of doing so can be overwhelming. That’s why we put together these super-simple tweaks you can make right now—with little effort and zero cost. All deliver big health results.
1. Always eat breakfast. If you’re one of those guys who’s never hungry in the morning—or simply never has time to eat before heading out the door—this is one change you need to make. Not only does eating in the morning stoke your metabolism the rest of the day, it may also help reduce the risk of obesity—as one recent study1 in the journal Circulation found. Why is it so important? When you skip breakfast, your metabolism is more sluggish and you’re hungrier later in the day—causing you to eat larger meals, which could spike blood sugar levels.
The key to a healthy breakfast: protein (like hard-boiled eggs or a protein shake), carbs (either fruit or a whole grain), and some healthy fat like almonds or peanut butter. All will help keep your blood sugar steady—and you full—longer.
2. Limit coffee to two cups. Coffee is chockfull of good-for-you antioxidants, but it’s the caffeine that’s the problem. Too much of it can make you jittery, contributing to stress and increased heart rate and blood pressure (both risk factors for heart disease). If you can, cut it down—or stick to decaf. Also keep in mind that one cup is 8 ounces—which has about 100 mg of caffeine—not 16 ounces (popular at coffee shops), which has about 330 mg of caffeine.
3. Exercise your core. If you’re like most people, you work hard at fitting in a good cardio workout but skip out on the more time-intensive core work. But you’ve got to change this: every muscle relies on your abs, hips, and lower back (a.k.a. your core)—why a strong core means less back problems and fewer mobility issues as you get older.
Three super-effective core exercises to start with2:
Lie on floor, holding a dumbbell (15-20 lbs.) over your chest with both hands. Curl your chest toward your knees. Squeeze abs, then lower slowly to start. Repeat 8 times; do 4 sets.
Stand, holding dumbbell (15 – 20 lbs.) in one hand. Lean slowly to the side the dumbbell is on, then return to vertical. Repeat 8 times; repeat on other side. Do 4 sets.
Lie on your back with legs extended straight up, feet flexed. Lower left leg until foot is about 3 inches off floor. Return to starting position; repeat with right leg. That’s one rep; do 8 to 10 reps. Do 4 sets.
4. Eat a fruit or veggie with every meal. To make sure you get all the nutrients you need—like vitamins A, C, and E; zinc; B vitamins; and lycopene—you need at least 5 to 9 servings of nutrient-packed produce every day. By sneaking in some produce with every meal, you’ll have no problem meeting that target. (Taking a daily multivitamin designed for men—like Centrum Men or Centrum Silver Men 50+—will also help ensure that you’re getting enough of the nutrients your body needs.)
Some fruit and veggie best bets?
- Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, studies have shown they relax blood vessels and support normal circulation3.
- Bananas are another great option as they’re rich in potassium (which supports muscle, brain, and heart health).
- Leafy greens like spinach and kale are also nutrient powerhouses, supplying everything from bone-building vitamin K and calcium to the B vitamins, which support your body’s energy needs.
5. Grill up some fatty fish. Fatty, or oily, fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout are chockfull of muscle-building protein—and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association4, omega-3 fats help protect the heart by lowering unhealthy triglycerides and blood pressure. Two servings a week is recommended.
Bottom line: you can sneak all these things into a busy schedule without stress. Try them; you may find you feel better, have more energy, and drop a few pounds, too!
1 “Prospective Study of Breakfast Eating and Incident Coronary Heart Disease in a Cohort of Male US Health Professionals,” Leah E. Cahill, PhD; Stephanie E. Chiuve, ScD; Rania A. Mekary, Ph.D; et al.; Circulation 128 (2013); 337-343; http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/128/4/337.short?rss=1
2 Always check with your doctor before starting, and engaging in, an exercise program.
3 “Dietary Enrichment with Wild Blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) Affects the Vascular Reactivity in the Aorta of Young Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats;” Kalea AZ, Clark K, Schuschke DA, Kristo AS, Klimis-Zacas DJ; J Nutr Biochem. 2010 Jan;21(1):14-22; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19157824; “Vascular Reactivity is Affected by Dietary Consumption of Wild Blueberries in the Sprague-Dawley Rat;” Kalea AZ, Clark K, Schuschke DA, Klimis-Zacas DJ; J Med Food. 2009 Feb;12(1):21-8; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19298192; “A Wild Blueberry-Enriched Diet (Vaccinium angustifolium) Improves Vascular Tone in the Adult Spontaneously Hypertensive Rat;” Kristo AS, Kalea AZ, Schuschke DA, Klimis-Zacas DJ; J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Nov 24;58(22):11600-5; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20964405; “Feeding Blueberry Diets Inhibits Angiotensin II-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Activity in Spontaneously Hypertensive Stroke-Prone Rats;” Wiseman W, Egan JM, Slemmer JE, et al; Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2011 Jan;89(1):67-71; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21186379.
4 AHA Scientific Statement: “Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease”; Circulation 2002; 106; 2747-2757; http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/21/2747.long
Image Credits: Dragon Images/Shutterstock.com
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