For men, staying healthy and happy does require a little more knowledge and effort than most would like to put forth on a regular basis. But keeping up with preventative maintenance and the staples of a healthy lifestyle is well worth it to say the least. Additionally, there are plenty of gender specific issues that many men will experience throughout their lives and it is important to be equipped and prepared to cross any of those bridges when the time comes.
Finding Balance & Being Proactive
Hormone balance is an essential aspect of health and wellness for men and women alike, but for men specifically there are some important things to be aware of. Furthermore, there are many natural therapies that are effective in addressing these types of issues. Debbie Reynolds-Hughes, Nurse Practitioner and owner of Holistic Harmony Healthcare, explains, “It is a common misconception that testosterone is a hormone only found in men and estrogen is a hormone that is only found in women. In actuality, men and women have both testosterone and estrogen present in their bodies, just in different levels. For men specifically, it is important to know that it is common to start losing testosterone in their early or mid-30’s, which is why it is crucial for men to have their testosterone levels checked by a physician on a regular basis once they reach that age. As higher estrogen levels in men increase chances of prostate cancer, making sure estrogen levels are low and where they should be is important too. Bone health in men sometimes gets overlooked, and is also affected by testosterone as having levels that are too low increases the risk of osteoporosis. Often men only think of muscle mass and sexual performance in relationship to testosterone, but healthy testosterone levels also affect many other physical aspects in addition to mental health aspects.
A lot of pharmaceutical companies are advertising topical gel for testosterone, but men should be aware that they can pass that on to others simply with physical contact. Something as simple as a handshake or holding a baby can put others at great risk. As another means of administering these essential hormones in order to balance the levels in your body, bio-identical hormone pelleting is an easy procedure that can be done during an office visit. These pellets are inserted under the skin and gradually dispense the hormones, so it will last about 5-6 months so you don’t have the risk of passing the testosterone to others.
Additionally, a lot of younger men are using testosterone supplements without consulting a medical professional to see if they actually are in need of it. This affects the bodies’ natural production of testosterone, so I always recommend consulting a physician to see whether a testosterone supplement is even necessary and if so, for an accurate dosage.
There are many other hormones in our bodies which need to be balanced for optimal wellness besides sex hormones. It is crucial for men that the thyroid is functioning properly, that all associated hormone levels are within normal limits, and that there are no antibodies present, which would indicate an autoimmune issue. Adrenal health has become fundamental because we live in a stressed out society and individuals are affected at a younger age than ever before. This generally affects weight and mental health. A lot of times low energy and libido is misdiagnosed as low testosterone instead of fatigue, and if you don’t address the hormone imbalance that is actually the cause of the fatigue your adrenal system will be out of whack. These levels can be problematic if they are high or low; sometimes it can fluctuate or be all over the place. As men age they gain excess fat just as women do, but it can be a result of a number of factors. Nutrition is also important for overall health, and balancing hormones will give men a better metabolic edge as well as keeping them healthy.
At Holistic Harmony we place a huge emphasis on preventative health care, and it is our goal to support men of all ages with their overall health and wellness. Balancing hormone levels is an essential piece of the puzzle, and can be incredibly beneficial in addressing many common health issues. When your hormones are properly balanced, your quality of life will improve. You’ll feel younger, more energized and more emotionally balanced. Hormones are the chemical messengers of your body, so when they’re properly balanced and functioning, all of your body systems work more smoothly. With accurate testing and medical supervision, you can discover your current hormone levels. If your levels are low, using a combination of bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, nutrition plans, supplements and fitness guidance can help you naturally balance your hormones and feel better than you have in years. We offer complimentary 15-minute consultations, which provide a risk-free opportunity to come in and find out more information to better asses if our programs are right for you.”
Drew Heithoff, a personal trainer at Lincoln Racquet Club, also speaks to the importance of maintaining a healthy metabolism. “One of the most important things for men to know is how a lack of regular exercise and fitness affects them. First, muscle atrophy will start to kick in fairly quick once exercise has stopped, causing the body to start eating away at the muscle. This will slow metabolism, making it easier for the body to store fat, especially around the midsection for most men. This also can make simple muscular tasks that were once easy more difficult to accomplish. More weight gain with less muscle mass to carry it around spells disaster.
However, the health benefits of regular exercise go beyond the obvious aesthetic improvements. A lot of the benefits occur within the body and are essential for a normal healthy life. Regular exercise creates lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and a higher metabolism, all of which reduce the risk of heart disease. Injury prevention and higher mobility are also positively affected through regular exercise.”
Regarding the numerous exercise options for men, Curt Truhe, who is also a personal trainer at Lincoln Racquet Club, explains, “Personal Training is the best option available for men to get the maximum benefit from their time spent at our club. This option includes a free fitness assessment to obtain base numbers off of which to work throughout the training sessions. We measure height, weight, blood pressure, body composition, basic strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular efficiency. Our trainers make sure to find out exactly what the client’s goals are, while being mindful of any past or current limitations. The member gets the most one-on-one attention through personal training. That specific attention prevents any technique breakdown that could occur during lifts. We constantly keep our clients in proper position to not only prevent injury, but provide the most beneficial movements for maximal, quality work. Personal training also provides an accountability factor that cannot be duplicated. On top of accountability, our trainers know how to properly push our clients outside of their comfort zone without risking injury, producing maximal results. If someone is uncomfortable with one-on-one, small group training allows for the same benefits, while also decreasing the price for each member of the group.
If personal training is outside of the client’s budget, free group classes and cycling are viable options as well. Although it isn’t one-on-one, our instructors are great at demonstrating lifts and keeping an eye on form during their classes. We provide Les Mills classes, which include Body Combat and Body Pump. Other classes, like Boot Camp, Kickboxing, and Synrgy 360x, provide high intensity interval training to bump up the intensity levels during workouts. Our indoor pool also provides classes and is a wonderful replacement for anyone with joint problems. The low impact in the water relieves joint pressure, while still allowing an elevated heart rate and increased cardiovascular work. These are just a few of the over 100 free classes we offer a week.
Something that every male needs to remember when it comes to exercise is that everyone is different. We all have different body types, and all of our bodies respond differently to different types of exercise. What helps one person may not help the next guy. If you are getting frustrated with the lack of results you are seeing, instead of getting mad and quitting, try something different. Talk to a trainer about a way to adjust your workout. Do some research about a new exercise program you can try. Hop in a class that you have never tried before. One simple adjustment may be exactly what you need.
One example of a new workout to try is interval training. These consist of hard bouts of work followed by short recovery periods. It allows you to get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time, while even continuing to work on your cardiovascular system after you’ve finished the workout. It is definitely hard work, and should be progressively increased to avoid injury.
If you are having trouble getting yourself to the gym, find a way to hold yourself accountable. Get a workout partner who helps you stay motivated and gets you off the couch, or hire a trainer. Having a fitness professional waiting for you is going to keep you showing up, and the wide variety of exercises and challenges are going to keep the gym fun and exciting for you. Another way to hold yourself accountable is by setting goals. Having a tangible body weight, max bench or squat, body fat percentage, or fitting into an old pair of pants you haven’t worn for a decade might be exactly the motivation you need to get you through your workout.”
Heithoff adds, “‘I just don’t have time.’ We hear this excuse daily. We, like anyone else, understand that it can be difficult to physically get to a fitness center. If you consciously make an effort to create a habit of going to the gym, by using a planner for example, it becomes another part of your daily routine. It won’t feel like you have to ‘make time’ to get to the gym, but instead, it will become a part of your day. If getting to the gym isn’t possible, use chores around the house as exercise. Fill laundry detergent jugs with water (for variable weight) and do different exercises at the house, do yard work, do house work, run your stairs, or chase kids. There are plenty of options that most people may not consider exercise, but if it gets your heart rate up, it’s work. Exercise doesn’t have to be a dreaded part of your day; make it fun! We promise it will be worth it.”
Golf, Fitness and YOU
This time of year especially, golf season is in “full swing” for many gentlemen of all ages. As with other sports, golf incorporates both mental and physical components. Madonna TherapyPlus Physical Therapist Darrin Bryant, PT, DPT, CSCS offers the following tips on the physical aspects of golf on how the sport of golf can contribute positively to overall health and wellness:
“The two main goals of the avid golfer should be: 1) to reach their full potential in terms of level of play and 2) to play this fantastic game in a manner that allows pain-free play for as long as they want, regardless of age. Unfortunately, golf tends to be a repetitive and stressful sport that creates a great deal of wear and tear on the body and may lead to injury if you do not take care of yourself properly. To play at your best and reduce the risk of injury, the ability to create a consistent and efficient golf swing needs to be created. This swing is dependent upon a number of distinct physical abilities (mobility, stability, strength, endurance, power, balance, body awareness) and if a golfer is lacking in any of these areas, compensations in the golf swing may occur.
Mobility, stability and strength are the ‘foundations’ that the remaining physical abilities build upon. In this case mobility is referring to the body’s (shoulders, hips, back, etc..) ability to attain the angles needed for an effective golf swing. However, improving your flexibility alone is not enough for improving golf performance. This is because if you lack the strength and a stable base to control your body through the entire range of desired motion—especially controlling your body during the high-speed movement that is the golf swing—compensations will certainly occur as will the increased chance of injury. Further, strength needs to be improved in a ‘functional’ way, meaning individual muscle groups need to learn how to work together in a manner that can be applied (and be applied over and over again), to a specific activity—in this case, an efficient and consistent golf swing.
To become ‘golf strong’, I encourage you to work on improving your flexibility (stretching your hamstrings, hips, lower back and shoulders), improving your strength (abdominals, trunk, hips, upper back and shoulders) and incorporate balance-based activities such as standing on one foot or performing squats on air-discs. By committing yourself to a golf-fitness program, you may improve your enjoyment of the game as well as continue to play golf for a long, long time. You may find it beneficial to seek the help of a Physical Therapist or Fitness Trainer to develop a plan specifically for your needs.”
Chris Thomson, PGA Director of Golf at Wilderness Ridge, adds, “Leading an active lifestyle helps keep us in shape both mentally and physically. Golf is a great way to release some stress just by being with family or friends and enjoying the outdoors. First, I think by getting to the course and either hitting balls or playing you can unwind from the stress of work. Golf is a great way to get some physical activity either by walking 9 holes or just practicing. Great for the mental health! We offer beginner adult golf programming called “Get Golf Ready” which is designed to get new players to the game. About 40% of participants are men and 50% are over 50 years old that want to get moving. We also offer private instruction for those wanting to work on specific areas of their game. Playing golf or any sport requires proper nutritional intake in order to perform at the optimum levels. When playing golf maintaining proper fuel levels will allow a player to perform better. Heavy meals or food items such as a hot dog at the turn could negatively affect performance on the back 9. Foods such as bananas, beef jerky or nuts will help maintain proper energy without getting too heavy in the stomach.
Men and Chiropractic Care
“If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it” is something most of us have heard sometime in our lives. When comparing men and women and their health, men tend to live with pain longer and most of the time, wait until the pain is worse to seek care. Dr. Kadi Fletcher of Fletcher Chiropractic explains, “Chiropractic care is very beneficial for men, especially with those chronic aches and pains. In my practice, I tend to see men that have had those chronic back, neck or knee pain, mostly from an older injury, either sport or job related years ago. Chiropractic care helps to provide relief from back and neck pain but it is also very beneficial with joint pain in shoulders and knees. Chiropractic care helps maintain alignment in our body so we can handle stress better, move better, and so that our performance can improve. Soft tissue work including trigger point and myofascial release therapy is helpful for the chronic aches and pain, and acupuncture is great for nerve pain and increased healing.
Strengthening and therapeutic exercise is important when combined with chiropractic care to help increase muscle strength and balance the body in motion. Men tend to work the anterior chain for the six pack and muscular look while the core and posterior/back muscles can be weak. Weak core muscles increase the chance of injury and increased lower back pain. If something hurts for more than 3 days, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a medical profession because the pain can be setting you up for further injury and chronic pain later on down the road.
In my office, we see several new and old injuries, some athletic, some not and effective chiropractic care along with soft tissue therapy, acupuncture and functional exercise, we can get you out of pain quickly and back on your way, keeping you in motion.”
Dr. Fletcher offers the following tips for men:
“Include core strengthening exercises that maintains a neutral spine, try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise a day or 10,000 steps a day, incorporate a balanced diet in order to get essential nutrients your body needs for energy, and utilize stress relief techniques like meditation or athletic activity to help decrease muscle tightness and pain.”
Dr. Austin Weaver of Holmes Lake Chiropractic adds, “Chiropractic care can benefit men for many reasons. Care can help to alleviate a variety of pain symptoms that are the result of musculoskeletal injuries or imbalances. Whether you are a man who works a physically demanding job, or one who sits at a desk (computer, phone, etc.), either can exacerbate your problems. With specialized techniques we can reduce the nerve irritation in your body to reduce symptoms and improve function, while increasing mobility and flexibility. If you are one of the many men who neglect or hold off on dealing with health issues, you are one of the populations that would benefit from care at our office the most. Our care focuses on your entire body and uses a holistic approach to alleviate conditions, i.e. sciatica, back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, etc.
One example of a situation almost entirely specific to men: wallets in back pockets. Many do not know how terribly damaging this can be to your back! You need to be aware of the fact that sitting on a wallet all day will cause not only discomfort but also negatively affects the muscles of your back and will ultimately cause an imbalance of the bones in your lower back. We suggest that men should remove their wallets prior to sitting down, or use a jacket or front pocket. When was the last time you cleaned out your wallet? Perhaps those extra receipts are causing more discomfort than you think. Visit HolmesLakeChiropractic.com for more information or to schedule an appointment!”
Skin Care for Men
Skin care is another aspect of health and wellness that is often neglected by men, but still important nonetheless. Erica Lee, owner of Ciao Bella Aesthetics, offers skin care tips for men:
1. Cleanse. If you do nothing else, cleansing is the single most important thing you can do for your face. It should be the basis of your skin care regimen, but that doesn’t mean reaching for a simple bar of soap (which can overcompensate and leave your skin dryer than a desert). Men’s skin typically has large pores and very active sebaceous glands. While these glands are critical for keeping the skin naturally moist, they can often produce too much sebum, leaving your skin feeling greasier than an oil slick. Neglecting to wash away the excess oil and dirt can clog pores, which leaves the skin prone to breakouts. A basic gel works just fine, but not all facial cleansers are created equal. Image Skin Care have ones that are strong enough to cut through the grease and gentle and affordable enough to be used at least twice a day.
2. Exfoliate. Sometimes cleaning the skin with a simple face wash just isn’t enough. A cleanser washes away oil and dirt on the surface, but what about all that nasty stuff deep down in your pores? That’s where exfoliation should make an appearance in your skin routine (just two to three times a week). It helps dislodge debris that normal washing can’t touch. A good scrub should have granules to help smooth the skin and eliminate the dullness that results from normal pore clogging and dirt build-up. Exfoliation also softens hair follicles for a closer, less-irritating shave and allows the skin to better absorb moisturizers.
3. Moisturize. Skin care for most men starts and stops with a basic bar of soap or cleanser. But washing is the absolute least you can do to prevent your face from turning into a big blackhead. Even if you happen to live in a sauna, skin can get dry after showering and, over time, that process known as aging makes it lose elasticity. Add all that to the horror of placing a sharp blade next to your face every day to appease rigid HR standards for clean-cut wholesomeness, and you have a recipe for irritated skin that’s parched and taut. Showering and shaving open up pores and allow precious water to escape, but a light moisturizer from Erica at Ciao Bella can fix everything. Her Image Skin Care line replenishes the skin’s moisture content and prevents razor burn. A moisturizer with SPF will also provide a critical shield against the sun.
4. Protect your eyes. There is one place on the face that men almost never touch: the eyes. But the skin around the eyes is the only area that actually deserves special attention, because men don’t age the same way that women do. Instead of a slow progression of fine lines and wrinkles, men’s aging occurs in quantum leaps, and one of the first visible signs of aging comes from the skin around the eyes. The soft, thin layer of skin that surrounds the eye is especially prone to developing creases and crinkles long before other parts of the body begin to show their age. All of this can be prevented with regular use of an Image eye cream. It smoothes and protects the skin, but requires commitment and proper usage. Applying eye cream once in a blue moon does nothing. The eye crème will slowly absorb and spread to the fragile areas that need it most.
Great skin care for men doesn’t have to be wrought with expensive lotions and potions, and you don’t have to spend hours in the bathroom every morning and night to look good. What’s your skin care regime like (or for the ladies, how is your guy caring for his skin)? Give Erica Lee at Ciao Bella Aesthetics & Permanent Cosmetics a call at (402) 416-5636—she will take the time to get you set up on the proper regimen.
Maintaining a Healthy & Active Lifestyle
For many men, a decline in health may result in a loss of independence. However, there are innovative solutions available for a variety of health setbacks which allow men to maintain and enjoy their current lifestyle.
Joe Frey of Triumph Home Health Supplies explains:
“Urinary incontinence (UI) affects men of all ages. There is a strong trend toward an increasing prevalence of UI with increasing age as well as an increase in the prevalence of UI in males with time. The estimated prevalence of UI varied from 11% among those aged 60 to 64 years to 31% in older men, and from 16% among white men to 21% among African American men. A small proportion (22%) of men with weekly UI episodes never sought medical care for this problem, whereas 40% of treated men reported moderate to great frustration with continued urine leakage. However, male incontinence is a treatable and disguisable issue.
With ground breaking products like the Conveen Optima, Triumph Home Health Supplies is able to keep you in the game! Not only does the Conveen provide the security and adhesion to prevent and contain leakage the streamlined leg bags provide volume containment and the ability to dispose at your convenience, not when your bladder triggers over activity.
Our friendly staff at Triumph Home Health Supplies can guide you in the selection of appropriate products if you are experiencing urinary incontinence. Conveniently located at 3233 Cornhusker Highway, Triumph takes pride in its discreet and free delivery service in and around Lincoln. Call today and ask us how we can help at (402) 434-5080.”
Men everywhere and of all ages are becoming more attentive to and knowledgeable about their personal health and wellness, and with good reason. Not only are there so many wonderful resources available for men to utilize; there are too many benefits of taking proper care of yourself and leading a healthy lifestyle to ignore! We encourage all men to get out and explore their options, and to be proactive with their health care–maintaining your good health is among the most valuable and significant things you can do for yourself and your loved ones.
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