Written by: Benjamin Smith | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: February 24th, 2020
The daily grind is a real thing. Last year, over 128 million people were employed in the United States. Close to 55 percent of those individuals are men. How many of those men do you believe are fathers? Many of these men focus so much on work that they stop taking care of themselves. This article will discuss the best ways that men can take care of themselves to provide them with more energy, satisfaction, and confidence every day.
So what is this key to success? Exercise. Yes, I know, it may sound frustratingly simple, but it works. Some men may become discouraged after working long hours and feel the desire to sit down and relax in front of the TV. Some may feel that going to the gym or just going out for a run will make them significantly more tired. To better understand the positive effects of regular exercise for men, we turn to the advice of a number of experts in the Fitness and Health industries.
Why do many men struggle to exercise? Dr. Michael Sachs of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology feels that for many it seems “easier” just to live a sedentary life. According to some of his research only 20 percent of men in the United States exercise regularly while another 20 percent exercise every so often. That leaves 60 percent of men hardly exercising at all.
A number of these men feel that they are not good enough. Their body does not appear how they would like and they often feel lethargic. Why go to the gym if others are just going to look and feel better than you?
For those who are feeling down and are struggling to get out and be more active, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
To provide an honest disclaimer, no journey comes without challenges. Arriving at the benefits may take a little while, but they are worth the wait. Douglas Smith, CEO of True Nutrition talks about the happiness that physical fitness can bring in life. As a young CEO, Smith is a perfect example of someone who has decided to live a healthy lifestyle and has seen amazing results.
Smith defines the mental benefits of exercise as “happy hormones.” This is due to the release of dopamine in the brain when participating in activities requiring physical exertion. These “happy hormones” help us to improve social norms during activities with other people and keeps our brain in good shape.
When we move, our brain can clear out all of the stresses or anxieties that we feel and we are able to think more clearly.
The “right” exercise
Every individual needs to decide for themselves what exercise is the right exercise for them. The key is finding something that you enjoy. You should not be doing something solely because you have been told that it will benefit your health. You need to find an activity that you enjoy to ensure that you will continue to do so and not get burnt out.
Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, bestselling author, and health and wellness thought leader advises, “Choose activities that you enjoy. It's important to have fun and measure your progress so you feel you are accomplishing something like getting stronger, healthier, faster, etc. Whether it is working with weights, spin classes, yoga, or swimming, you need to find the activities that bring you joy.”
Once you have found some forms of exercise that are enjoyable, you should start creating the habit of participating in these activities regularly. This can be challenging at first, but Anthony Balduzzi of the Fit Father Project has found a solution to this. Balduzzi and his team work to help men over 40, especially fathers, to reclaim their lives with fitness plans, meal plans, and a number of workouts.
Balduzzi’s solution is the creation of a personal mission statement of the why behind their desire to reclaim their lives. Have you ever thought of what your why might be? Think about these questions when creating your own mission statement:
- Why is it important to me to reclaim my life and become more physically active?
- What does this mean to me?
- What are the long-term benefits I can gain from this?
Once you have created a mission statement, you are ready to begin.
So why is it important to exercise regularly? Jack Burke of forhims.com provides some insights regarding consistent exercise patterns.
First, a combination of aerobic exercise and weight training throughout the week, paired with a healthy diet, can help moderate your body weight. If you have packed on some extra pounds during the years you have been working long hours, this is one way you can start shedding them.
Second, a healthy body typically experiences less fatigue, aches, and pains. This allows you to develop better mobility while balancing your moods and sleep patterns.
As you continue to make this a habit, your body will grow accustomed to the exertion and after a short time you will begin to feel a stronger desire to be active as your body yearns to move.
Many people feel that the only way they are going to be able to take control of their physical health is if they invest in a gym pass. The truth is, it all depends on what works best for you.
Alex Carneiro, a personal trainer from Denver, Colorado says, “Whether men work out at home or at a gym is personal preference. The gym does have more equipment and personnel that might help those who don't know what they are doing as well as classes and personal training.”
For those who choose to work out at home, Carneiro recommends starting with a couple of these basic exercises to start building up muscle strength and endurance:
- Jumping jacks
- Body weight squats
- Walking or running
If you do make the decision to invest in a gym pass, think about what factors will motivate you to continue. Fred DeVito of Exhale recommends making appointments for classes and if you feel uncomfortable, booking a private session with an instructor to learn a couple of basic movements so that you are more comfortable for future classes.
DeVito is an advocate of classroom learning with instructors since they are more likely to hold you accountable and push you out of your comfort zone.
Men often have the desire to go hard on a run or while lifting weights in order to maximize their efforts. This is not always a bad thing, but it is certainly not the right thing to do when just starting out.
Physical fitness requires a progression. When starting, you need to take your time and allow your body to grow accustomed to the strain that you are putting on it. If you work your body too hard, you will make very few advances and the chance of suffering from exhaustion and fatigue is significantly higher.
If you want to run, start with half a mile. Over a couple of weeks work up to a mile. You can continue to do that over time while allowing your body sufficient time to rest and rejuvenate.
The same goes for weights. If you are wanting to lift, start with small weights. Just because you are not ridiculously sore the first couple of weeks does not mean that you are not doing enough. If you have more questions about what weights are appropriate to start with, contact a personal trainer at a local gym and set up a couple of sessions to make sure that you don’t push yourself too hard and hinder your progression.
Some of the greatest benefits that you will receive from caring for your body are those that will help you remain healthy over the years. Caleb Backe, a wellness expert from Maple Holistics, has identified three main benefits stemming from consistent physical activity:
- Lower blood pressure — Exercise decreases your risk of hypertension which also reduces the risk of developing many cardiovascular health conditions.
- Increased testosterone — A number of men have been known to use a wide variety of questionable supplements to increase testosterone levels (which decrease with age). Coincidentally, exercise increases testosterone levels. Even a small boost in your exercise habits can increase testosterone production.
- Decreased risk of other illnesses — Regular physical activity can protect your heart, strengthen your bones, boost your metabolism, and balance your hormones.
Essentially, exercise helps all of your bodily functions to perform at optimum levels.
Men, fathers, and anyone else who has struggled to take control of their physical fitness — don’t let the past control what you do now. Don’t live with the thought of doing something in the future. Start today and take things one day at a time. The more energy you have, the more you will have to spend with your family.
Find exercise that you enjoy and don’t be afraid to ask people to help you. Call your friends, make some new friends. Hit up the basketball court. Go out for a run.
A healthier you is just a half hour away. Now is your chance to take some time for yourself. Even if it is just 15 minutes each day, the effort you put in today will pay off tomorrow.