January 16, 2010

UK: How men can avoid middle-age spread at any age

. LONDON, England / The Times / Life & Style / Health / January 16, 2010 James Dulgan, our fitness expert reveals how to keep your body in optimum shape at every age In your 20s What’s happening to your body You can do anything. Your ability to recover from injury is at its peak and you can take on tough exercise. But remember, you’ll pay for how you live now in later years, so look after yourself. Simon Cowell on holiday on a jet ski Related Links The 10 best fitness websites Abs fab: how the six pack took over Will you live to 120? How to keep in shape Make sure you play sport a couple of times a week. Martial arts are a good idea to work off that testosterone. At the gym, try supplementing weights work with a yoga class once a week, because men have a tendency to tighten up. We’re not as flexible as women because we don’t have as much of the hormone relaxin in our system (in turn, because of their increased relaxin, women need to make sure they do weights work to stabilise their joints). If you’re worried that real men don’t do yoga then you’re clearly not a real man. In your 30s What’s happening to your body You need to start looking after yourself, not just by exercising, but with good nutrition and by drinking lots of water. If you’ve been abusing your body since your teens, you’ll start to look like a woman. I’m serious: man boobs and a fat butt are common consequences of alcohol, bad food and toxins creating more oestrogen in the system and causing a more feminine body shape. Beer is probably the worst offender — recent research from Oregon State University found beer hops to be the most powerful substance in terms of oestrogen replacement for post-menopausal women. How to keep in shape Towards the end of your thirties your muscle strength starts to diminish, so make sure that you do resistance work (lifting weights, preferably free weights) backed up with some cardio, maybe a bit of boxing or a light run a couple of times a week. Taking up jogging will not be the answer to all your problems. It’s not a good idea to do just cardio work because the increased respiration speeds up the rate of oxidisation in the body’s cells, which ages you. Those dumbbells matter — the more muscle you have the faster your metabolism will be and so you’ll maintain a better body composition with less fat. Start thinking about taking some supplements — a couple of fish oils and multivitamins — to make sure that your system is well nourished. In your 40s What’s happening to your body You need to be much more conscious of what you eat because it will start to show on your body more. Eat fruit, vegetables and especially fibre, not least because there’s an increased chance of colon cancer in your 40s. If you’re not eating enough green vegetables, try a fibre powder (available in health food shops). Your metabolism starts to slow down, your testosterone production slows too, but remember — if you still challenge your body, your body will do it’s best to keep up. How to keep in shape Believe it or not, you should be aiming to exercise six times a week — the standard three days won’t be enough if you want to look and feel good. Don’t worry if you’re new to exercise. Start with a brisk walk and take it from there. If you can walk into a room, you can do a simple squat and lunge — there’s no excuse for not being able to do these basic movements. It doesn’t have to be an hour’s slog in the gym — run around with the kids, teach them to surf, go to the gym and don’t dismiss Pilates or yoga. As you get older you develop faulty breathing patterns from being stressed at your desk, so breathing is a huge part of being healthy and lots of men find that Pilates and yoga help. I’ve had clients get up to 90 per cent more oxygen per breath. As a result, they find they have much more energy and less stress. A tip for feeling instantly less stressed is to breathe like a baby — breathe right into your tummy, then push the breath out using your tummy muscles, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. In your 50s What’s happening to your body Think of your body like a creaky door — you’ve got to keep it oiled and moving. Exercise is less about intensity and duration and more about doing something little and often. Look at exercises to replicate your daily activities so that you can do them more safely. At my gym, for example, if you’re a lorry driver, loading deliveries, we’ll get you to do squats and twists. How to keep in shape Make sure that you drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruit and veg. A simple way of looking at it is that you want to get clean (avoiding foods that are processed and full of additives) and lean. Stay away from high-impact sport because your powers of recovery are slower. Most guys are at the peak of their careers now and it can be a stressful decade — to release tension, try boxercise or pad work with an instructor. In your 60s What’s happening to your body Your body processes are slowing down. Muscle mass declines, connective tissue deteriorates and your bones are a little more brittle. The good news is that you can still turn around some of the damage. How to keep in shape Keep up the swimming and golf and take fish oils to help with joints that may be deteriorating. It’s not too late to pick up weights but do talk to a professional first if you are new to fitness. Don’t be afraid to try your local gym and ask for a bodyweight programme incorporating squats and lunges. Your goal is to build up or maintain joint and muscle strength so that you can remain independent. [rc] For more information, bodyism.com Copyright 2010 Times Newspapers Ltd.