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The good news: Along with other healthy lifestyle choices, the right kinds of physical activity can help prevent these and other health threats.
Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, running or biking strengthens your heart and lowers your blood pressure. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity five days per week. You don’t have to do it all at once. Three 10-minute walks can be as effective as one 30-minute walk at lowering blood pressure.
You can even get in activity during the work day. Break up the long hours at a desk by getting up and moving around at least once an hour. Just taking a short two-minute stroll can help to keep blood sugar levels stable. When you can, stand up to take breaks from sitting.
Exercise may help prevent certain types of cancer, research shows. If you already exercise 30 minutes most days of the week, work your way up to a full hour. Logging 300 minutes of activity per week may provide additional benefits. If that’s too much, just do as much as you can.
Unintentional injuries, such as falls, are the third most common cause of death among men. Exercise programs that include balance training could prevent up to 42 percent of falls, studies show. Consider taking a class in Tai Chi, a martial art that helps improve balance and coordination. Or try this balance move:
Training your balance and maintaining muscle strength is especially important as you age. Natural aging causes nerves to die off and muscles to weaken. But regular exercise enlarges muscle fibers and can stave off the decline by increasing the strength of the muscle you still have.
Some men admit to being uncomfortable with being the only man or one of a few men in a group fitness class. But more and more men are reaping the benefits of group yoga, Pilates and aerobic classes. Some gyms and recreation centers even offer male-only boot camps and strength training classes.
Something like yoga or Pilates may seem a little alien to many men, but these types of strength and balance training have considerable health benefits.
Consider joining the millions of Americans practicing yoga. By combining breathing techniques with various poses, yoga has been shown to renew the mind and the body. It also builds flexibility while improving strength and balance.
And research has shown that yoga practice can help reduce stress and anxiety. It may help relieve some symptoms associated with heart disease and cancer. It’s also an effective complementary therapy for asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back pain, and arthritis.
If a class setting is not for you, there are plenty of solo activities to choose from. In addition to cardio activities like running, walking and biking, don’t forget the power of good old-fashioned body weight exercises and calisthenics.
Jumping jacks, jumping rope, crunches, squats, lunges and pushups are great building blocks for fitness — no gym or classes required. Look for videos online for more ideas and to make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly.
When putting together your plan, keep in mind a complete exercise program should include cardio, strength training and flexibility exercises.
Even if you can’t fit in a set fitness routine every day, keep your body moving most days for better health and to lower your risk of serious illness and injury.
If you’re just starting to be active or increasing your activity level, talk to your doctor first to make sure your plan is safe for you. Plan to slowly add more activity by increasing the days per week and minutes per session.
Does it seem like you just don’t have time to be more active? Or maybe it’s hard to get and stay motivated. There are simple ways to sit less and move more that don’t take a lot of extra time or effort. And it can even be fun.
Try these tips from the American Cancer Society:
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