A Man’s Guide to Great Health: Part 1

My late grandfather gallantly fought the Japanese during their invasion of Singapore in World War II and was one of the bold peacemakers in the 1964 racial riot. He would have had more time with us had it not been for his addiction of two packs a day, and died from a heart attack at the age of 62.

Not unlike many fathers of men who now, in their 40s and 50s, are wondering how to survive in the new millennium. My grandfather belonged to a generation that did not know any better. Real men were expected to smoke and grow fat.

Fast forward to his grandson, I am close to 40 now, I exercise every day, have not touched a single stick in my life and the only six-pack I want is not the alcoholic beverage from the local supermarket but the one on my mid-section. I am in the best shape of my life and am wickedly confident I can put a 20-year-old to shame. Our generation has learned that there is an intimate interplay between genes and environment, and both have an impact on our health.

If you are like me and want to live a long and healthy life, here are some great tips to buff you up for the new millennium.


Get Married

You may be walking down the path of the great Harvey Specter, but let’s face it, guys — we all need women. Statistics have pointed out that men who never marry or are divorced and do not remarry, simply do not live as long as their married counterpart. Apart from being how nice they are with their looks, women are a tonic for our hearts and souls. Having someone to confide to, to share your experiences and troubles with, is vital to survival. Wives have a humanising effect on many men who find themselves wanting to do their best both for themselves and their spouses.

If marriage is not in your bag, maintain a positive relationship with your significant other. It is not necessarily the ring around your finger that counts. It is the emotional support and companionship that make relationships healthy and special.


Lose Weight

Perhaps the most important benefit of a healthy diet and regular exercise is the maintenance of an ideal body weight range. Obesity takes a devastating toll on the body and is a major public health problem, negatively affecting virtually every organ system. Losing weight is a win-win situation, helping to reduce your risk of heart disease. For instance, if you are obese, losing just 5 kilograms reduces the risk of developing arthritis of the knee by 50%. For individuals with medical problems, weight loss is especially beneficial. In fact, obese diabetics who lose weight achieve superior blood sugar control that may enable them to discontinue their medication.

Want to lose weight and keep it off? Slowly shed the pounds over six to 18 months using proper nutrition and exercise. Do not starve yourself! Starvation forces your body to hand onto every calorie you consume. Losing weight means you eat three full, balanced healthy meals a day and exercise regularly. Make sure you are getting a truckload of vegetables, especially the dark green variety, and choose your fats wisely. In essence, that means more olive oil, flaxseed, avocados and cold-water fish.

If you get hungry in between meals, snack on fruits, not junk food. Beware of these new-fangled snacks that contain no fat but are loaded with carbohydrates, which have just as much affinity for your midline. Successful and lasting weight loss comes from achieving a lifelong healthy lifestyle. The most important reason to lose weight? You will look and feel better about yourself.


Exercise Aerobically

If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only do one exercise, what would it be? I’d choose aerobic exercise any time of the day and Para Para Dance my way until help arrives. Conditioning exercises like running, biking and swimming build the most important muscle in your body — the heart. Weight loss, protection against hypertension, diabetes and heart disease are additional benefits of aerobic exercise. Even people with an existing medical problem can benefit tremendously from exercise, often leading to a decrease in their use of medication.

If you have been a couch potato for the past millennium, grab yourself a new pair of Under Armour sneakers and start by walking an hour every day for a month then switch to low-impact biking or swimming. Although controversy rages over the ideal aerobic regime, engaging yourself with any aerobic exercises for 30 minutes a day at least three times a week is a good start. As always, consult with your doctor before attempting to embark on any customised exercise program.