About Fifteen years ago, when I was then older than most of you readers are today, my doctor gave me three keys to a long and healthy life:
If you’re reading this then you can eliminate directive number as no one gets to select the DNA they are born with. Obviously, your chromosomal makeup plays a vital role in who you are physically and mentally. Your genes determine your eye and hair color, your body type, height, I.Q. blood type, susceptibility or resistance to certain ailments or diseases and thousands of other features that make you unique. You may have “good genes” that bless you with good health or you may have inherited a body type that is less than athletic or an immune system that is not as robust as the average person.
However, you can control your what you do with the body and mind that was given to you at birth. At age 67, I have tried to adhere to items two and three above. If you are a male over 50 or a female over 60, being on an 81mg daily aspirin regimen may have long term health benefits for you. It has been shown to reduce the chance of heart attack or stroke. Check with your doctor to determine if an aspirin regimen might be good for you.
Did you have to stop and think about number three for a second? Of course, every day of the week ends in “Y” therefore the directive is to exercise every day. I can’t say that I have been as diligent with this directive as number two but most would agree that it is a good idea. Does that mean 2-3 hours in the gym every day? No, but the literature shows that as little as 15-20 minutes of movement/day is beneficial to your cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems and therefore to your quality of life.
So here are my top five directives or methods for staying fit, living longer and healthier.
We will cover each in a five-part series. Starting here with Resistance Training.
With a background in football coaching and competitive powerlifting, I am, of course, an advocate of progressive resistance training. Benefits: Progressive resistance training (increasing volume or weight over time) has been proven to not only strengthen muscle, but also to increase bone density and reduce the incidence of osteoporosis in mature adults. In addition, increasing lean body mass (defined as body weight -your body’s fat in lbs.), improves your metabolic rate as muscle burns calories at rest faster than fat so you get a “boost” over your previous less lean body. That’s right, a fit person will burn more calories watching a football game than his less fit “couch potato” neighbor doing the same activity.
Furthermore, a solid program of resistance training will result in a metamorphosis in your body that is visible to you and others. You will receive compliments from your significant other, friends and relatives. Comments such as ‘have you been working out?’, ‘you look like you lost weight’ and ‘you look different, did you cut your hair or something?’ will become commonplace. Those comments will boost your confidence, put pep in your step and encourage you to continue with your training regimen. So not only will you experience physiological benefits, but psychological as well. Improved self-esteem is a key benefit of regular physical activity. This improvement in self-esteem will carry over to your personal and business life likely resulting in improvement your relationships and your professional career.
Sound good? How do I get started? The biggest barrier to starting an exercise program for most people is taking that first step. Lack of knowledge and self-confidence (aka fear) stand in the way of people getting into the gym. So here are some tips to help:
So what are you waiting for? Get off the couch and take the first step to a longer and healthier life by beginning progressive resistance training today!
The writing of this article was prompted by all the social media posts I’ve seen talking about men’s mental health. Apparently November is men’s mental health month. That is unless you’re struggling with your own mental health issues. Then, every month, week, and day may very well be an ongoing struggle. Although throughout this article I’ll be referencing comparative data between men and women and differing demographics, the point is not to prop up men's suffering above women or anyone else for that matter. It’s simply there to elucidate the current state of men’s mental health, which is the central focus of this article. “Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution” (1). This mentality exists in contrast to the current lack of awareness pertaining to the drivers of psychological ill-health. Social media and articles routinely discuss what to do if you’re depressed, anxious, suicidal, etc. But seldom does anyone discuss the complexity of the subject. Unfortunately, without truly understanding the issues that lead to ill-health it’s unlikely to come up with an effective solution and subsequent prevention strategies. Therefore the aim of this article is as follows:
Optimizing exercise range of motion to maximize muscle growth is a popular topic to discuss. As new research emerges, it often leaves you with more questions about the fundamental mechanisms and application of hypertrophy training. Mechanical tension is known as a primary driver of hypertrophy. Therefore it stands to reason that training a muscle through larger ranges of motion will create more tension, resulting in a greater hypertrophic stimulus. Although this makes sense at face value, it’s ultimately an unsatisfactory answer. At deeper levels of analysis, mechanical tension alone (or at least our current model) can not explain some of the observed outcomes we see both in the literature and anecdotally. The aim of this article is to provide a brief review of the topic, provide context to the ROM discussion, and offer practical recommendations to implement into your own training.