Men give many excuses for why they don’t exercise, but there are just as many reasons why they should. To name a few: Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity. It keeps joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. It contributes to mental well-being, relieves stress and anxiety, and even helps combat depression. Exercise boosts energy and improves sleep. And, of course, it helps you maintain a healthy weight.
In order to benefit from your effort, follow the exercise guidelines of the American Heart Association, American Council on Exercise, and the American College of Sports Medicine, and aim to exercise at least two-and-a-half hours (150 minutes) a week. Of course, you don’t have to do it all in one or two days. In fact, you’ll do your heart more good if you exercise on most days of the week; ideally, you will never go more than two days in a row without exercising. If you have been sedentary or haven’t exercised very regularly for a while, begin by exercising three or more times a week for 20 minutes or more, and work up from there.
Make it a habit.
The people who are the most successful with exercise programs make it a regular habit. Some even go as far as making appointments for exercise and writing them in a calendar, just like any other commitment. If you do well with goals, then look for an event, such as a 10K run or a 50-mile bike ride, sign up, and then train for it. There are dozens of online resources that can help.
After you start, periodically check your progress to see how you’re doing. Can you walk farther in 20 minutes than you could when you started? Are your heart rate and your blood pressure lower?
Cover all the bases.
A complete exercise program includes aerobic exercise (walking, running, cycling, or swimming), strength training, and flexibility training. Building muscle not only makes it easier and more fun to do your favorite activities, but it also boosts your metabolism to help you maintain a healthy weight. Whether you prefer a regimen of body weight exercises, such as pushups, lunges, squats, crunches, etc., or like to use free weights or weight machines, be sure to do exercises that strengthen every major muscle group: chest, upper back, lower back, arms, shoulders, abdominals, buttocks, and legs.
Finally, don’t forget to stretch. Stretching is the most neglected part of most exercise programs, but it’s important for injury prevention because it relieves muscle tension and soreness. The best way to stretch is to take a deep breath and slowly exhale as you stretch. When you feel tension in the muscle you are stretching, stop, and hold for 15–30 seconds. Relax, and repeat. Stretching is also something you can do every day to help you relax.