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Real men exercise

Published in General, For the Health of It Author: John Inkster, MS

Middle age creeps up on us. You start spending more time behind a desk and in a recliner than tossing around the pigskin or pitching fastballs.

Men will admit to me that they haven’t really exercised in years, but they want to get in better shape. They ask, “Where do I start?”

Rule #1: Start slowly. It is common to be enthusiastic on the first day and push yourself hard, but the next day you may barely be able to walk. Start gradually, even 10 minutes is good to start, and work up to exercising on most days for 30-60 minutes. You will feel good and your resolve to exercise will stay strong.

Rule #2: Find something you enjoy. The choice of exercise doesn’t matter. Pick up a new sport or an old one that you liked back in high school. Start walking. Go swimming. Experiment until you find something that you really enjoy.

Rule #3: Use the buddy system. If willpower is your problem, get other people involved. Start golfing with a friend. Join a group of guys who meet for pick-up games in the park. Hire a certified trainer at the gym. Having an obligation to someone else will help push you out of your recliner and get you moving.

Rule #4: Be realistic. If you haven’t been regularly active, you will need time to adjust. Start with lower intensity activities (walking) and hold off on more intense (running, chopping wood, etc.) until you’ve had some time to train your body.

Rule #5: Listen. I don’t mean to your wife, though that’s a good idea too. I mean listen to your body. Men particularly like to downplay what they’re feeling. “Oh, this little chest tightness will go away. It’s not that bad.” Listen to the messages your body is telling you and then act on them.

Rule #6: Learn. Men notoriously don’t ask for directions or read the instruction manual. But, there are good things out there to make sure you are exercising safely and effectively. The American College of Sports Medicine has some great information on lots of exercise topics.