There are emotional and spiritual benefits of aging for men.
If a man possesses an inner commitment to personal growth, then growing older will often increase his happiness and sense of purpose.
Accelerated aging, however, is when inefficiency of the body’s processes occurs at an unnecessarily high speed.
How Men Fight Aging Successfully
Men face slightly different challenges when undergoing a new health regimen.
The motivations for what motivates men to change habits are as varied as men themselves:
- Some want to become healthier so that they have will have more time and energy with their future grandchildren.
- Some want to perform better – to become stronger and faster.
- Some are inspired by prevention – they want their joints to remain supple, their spine limber, and their posture tall.
- Some want to look better naked – they want to be able to see abdominal definition when they look in the mirror.
Any of these are good reasons to pursue improved health.
It can be difficult for some men to change habits that have been established after years of repetition.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” seems to be the unconscious position of the male psyche.
The question becomes, how do you define “broke” when it comes to self-improvement?
- Does “broke” mean “my doctor just told me I might die soon if I don’t change?”
- Or, does “broke” mean, “I seek to improve myself for the sake of becoming even better than I am now?”
Mistakes Men Make
In the area of physical fitness, a common mistake men often make is training their upper body slightly more than their lower body.
Usually, this isn’t done or purpose, and many men would be surprised – if they counted the number of exercise sets they complete for chest and arms versus for legs – to discover that there is an imbalance.
Even just training the upper body 10% more than the lower, will produce compounded results as the years pass and leave a man with an asymmetrical body and weak-looking legs.
Unlike women (who sometimes value the look of soft shoulders), men generally prefer to have their shoulders be strong and powerful.
This must also include the often neglected posterior deltoid (the rear shoulder muscle) to create the perfectly shaped shoulder cap.
If the lats are trained properly (the side back muscle “wings”) then these strong shoulders and back muscles will create a V-taper that narrows to a tighter-looking waist at the bottom.
Physique Proportions for Men
Men come in all shapes and sizes – and that genetic diversity is a good thing.
However, many men feel their best when they achieve shoulder development that is at least 1.6 times larger than their waist.
Theoretically, an aesthetically pleasing male physique has a waist size that is close to 46% of standing height, with arms that match the neck size, and calves that match the arms.
You can arrive at this number by multiplying your height by 46%.
Keep in mind that these formulas don’t account for genetic differences in limb length, torso length, the width of your pelvis, or how far above your joints the insertion points of your muscles begin.
It’s an approximation, only.
Here are seven smart strategies that can help a man to lengthen his healthspan and lifespan – and reduce the risk of growing older faster than he needs to.
1. Find a Doctor that Has a Preventative Mindset
A medical office today will draw blood – for the standard panel tests during a patient’s yearly physical – and the doctor will then say, “When the labs come back, I’ll call you if there’s a problem; otherwise, just assume that everything’s okay.”
It’s as if they’re saying, “Unless you have a disease or abnormal lab results, we don’t need to spend any more time together.”
Medical doctors are often doing the best they can in a system that has become bureaucratic and challenging.
- But what if a patient sees the doctor in order to become even healthier?
- Does this even fit into the “I’ll call you if there’s a problem” paradigm?
What adds to the peculiarity of this dynamic is that “abnormal” is open to interpretation.
Often the normal range that is listed on the lab results is based on the average modern citizen.
If you happen to live in America right now, what is considered normal health – and I don’t enjoy saying this – is pretty bleak.
In that context, to be within “normal” ranges is not necessarily so great.
Testimonials for Over Fifty And Fit and the free weekly email update:
“My wife hates you. It is 4.30am, and I am awake and doing close-grip push-ups and getting ready to go for a long walk with my dog on the beach. Thank you for your guidance!”–Martin
“I am an orthopedic surgeon and want to thank you for your inspiration of wellness, self-care and weight loss. I read your blogs and watch your fitness videos to apply them to my life. Over the last year, I’ve been able to lose 34 pounds. I share your site and links with others.”–A.J.
“I appreciate your insights about living life well, not merely surviving but thriving. I am grateful for your exercises — I am seeing changes within myself.”–Paul
Perhaps more than just one particular lifestyle habit, healthy living is really a holistic mindset in which the overall attitude is to honor one’s body and psyche by living within a full circle of wellness.
The underlying assumption is that there is always more to learn and that the mind needs to be open to new solutions.
Though many people don’t like to visualize themselves aging, those over the age of 50 who are brave enough to consciously imagine their lives decades into the future – and adopt new habits now – are often the ones who end up living the most passionate, fulfilling lives as they get older.
2. Eat Less Acidic Foods
There are probably way too many acidic foods in the standard modern diet.
According to Dr. Ben Kim, your blood must maintain a pH of 7.35 to 7.45 for your cells to function properly.
Being overly alkaline for long periods is not good for humans either, but many today who live in first-world countries are overly acidic.
“When people encourage you to alkalize your blood, most of them mean that you should eat plenty of foods that have an alkaline-forming effect on your system. The reason for making this suggestion is that the vast majority of highly processed foods – like white flour products and white sugar – have an acid-forming effect on your system, and if you spend years eating a poor diet that is mainly acid-forming, you will overwork some of the buffering systems [in your body] to a point where you could create undesirable changes in your health.” – Dr. Ben Kim
Not everyone needs to eat less acidic foods, but for many of us, it would be beneficial. Popular foods that are acidic include:
- Wheat Flour products
- Peanuts and Peanut Butter
- Canned Fruits
3. Eat More Alkaline Foods
My favorite kinds of smoothies are green smoothies because they are strengthening, restorative, and alkaline-producing.
Green smoothie ingredients that are alkaline include:
- Italian Parsley
Green vegetables contain complex carbohydrates that typically digest more slowly, which means they can sustain your energy levels for hours.
- Simple carbohydrates are absorbed much faster and are also known as a simple sugar. These are things like bread, pasta, candy, or sodas – plus the naturally occurring simple sugars in fruit:
- Simple carbohydrates often give you a rush of energy followed by an energy crash. Habitual, excess blood sugar creates glycation – one of the top culprits of accelerated aging.
Too busy to read the rest of this article now? Pin it for later.
During the first couple of weeks as you seek to introduce more complex carbohydrates into your smoothie recipe, I recommend two vegetables in particular – they’re good “entry” vegetables for beginners:
Add Cucumbers to Your Smoothies
A cucumber in a smoothie tastes refreshing (especially during hot summer months).
Add Spinach or Kale to Your Smoothies
You can drop spinach or kale right into your blender and you won’t even taste it in smoothie since the freshness of the other ingredients – such as spices or fruits – will usually dominate the taste.
Excess iron in the blood is not uncommon for men over 50, so – if that’s you – consider trying a bit of kale instead of spinach every day (kale has less iron than spinach).
“Thanks, Dane, for what you are doing. Your legacy will live on after you.”–Eliyah
“Just wanted to say thanks. I’m 57 and in pretty good shape but I still need motivation from time time. You help keep me focused on staying in shape, and I appreciate it.”–Mike
Add Pomegranate Juice to Your Smoothies
Science is proving the valuable benefits of superfoods – including ingesting the ruby-colored fruit of the pomegranate tree.
A superfood is generally considered to be any food that is unusually dense in nutrients relative to other foods and has a positive impact on the human body for the majority of people who ingest it.
Researchers at the Life Extension Foundation report that “an abundance of data supports the power of pomegranate extract as a broad-spectrum, multi-modal defense against multiple diseases of aging.”
In a study group of humans who took pomegranate daily, after 12 months blood flow through the carotid arteries improved 44%, yet worsened by 9% in the placebo group.
Perhaps the fastest and easiest way to get more pomegranate into your new anti-inflammatory diet is simply to buy bottled juice at the grocery store.
You can drink a small amount of the juice on its own, or you can add the juice as a liquid base to your blender when making your morning smoothie.
If you want to eat the seeds fresh and raw – for instance, as a topping over a salad – open up a fresh pomegranate in a big bowl of water. The seeds will float to the top (and not go flying all over the place, staining your counters and floors).
To be on the safe side, test a little pomegranate first, just to make sure that your body actually likes it and responds well to it. A very small number of people are hypersensitive or mildly allergic – it is a potent food.
Over time as you learn to love smoothies and your taste buds begin to appreciate vegetables, you can gradually transition into recipes that have more dark leafy green vegetables and less fruit:
- Generally, when someone is new to smoothies and the blender lifestyle, they enjoy the sweet taste of fruits, and so create all sorts of smoothie concoctions in a rainbow of colors. All are very tasty, but eventually, beginners find that they’re ready to take it one step further and begin to gradually add raw vegetables – small amounts at first, then gradually, with time, more and more.
- The more vegetables in your blender (especially the dark, leafy greens that are so terrifically healthy for you) the greener the smoothie. Generally, the greener the smoothie, the better it is for you.
Some experts believe that nutritional upgrades are even more important than exercise, stress reduction, and sleep quality (because when nutrition improves, it seems – somehow – to make it much easier to solve the other three).
4. Be Brutally Honest with Yourself about Excess Body Fat
I’m not a fan of fat-shaming.
All types of bodies can be beautiful and diversity is what makes life interesting.
However, if we are having an honest conversation about what is optimally healthy, excess fat is not.
Fat cells are connective tissue within the human body designated specifically to store energy:
- Having a certain percentage of the human body comprised of fat can be helpful.
- Having an excess of body fat can be detrimental to one’s overall well-being.
There is a denial in our society about body fat.
Our current cultural denial about body fat can be traced to a shift in norms.
What we, as a society, begin to see as normal still does not shift the negative impact surplus fat cells have on our bodies.
In other words, if a person is 15 pounds into the overweight zone, they may look perfectly acceptable from a cosmetic standpoint. However, overweight is a medical term, not simply a cosmetic one.
Many medical disorders can be traced to surplus body fat.
An excess of body fat increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Simply put: overweight people do not live as long.
We accumulate excess body fat for two reasons:
- fat cells become bloated from excess calories
- fat cells become dysfunctional, impairing the burning of fatty acids for energy
A recent survey suggests that approximately:
- 30% of overweight Americans believe they are within normal range
- 70% of obese Americans believe they are simply in the overweight range.
“I have been reading your articles for the last couple of years and have found them to be life-changing. They have inspired me to make my lifestyle the best it can.”– George
“The ER physician gripped my hand after I came out of being unconscious for 6 hours, and spoke these words, ‘Sir, the Universe has just given you a second chance. What are you going to do with it?’ Those words launched me into the waters of a new journey toward greater health. Thank you for the advice you give, the kindness you share, and the wisdom you offer. The waters seem immense and, at times, unnavigable, but I trust in your helmsmen skills.”– Paul
“Dane, you’re outstanding, Brother. I appreciate all of your effort and hard work preparing these messages for healthier living. Your weekly updates hit spot-on and contain encouraging bits of wisdom that I truly need to hear.”– Dartlan
The Life Extension Foundation reports that of the more than 1,000 plants that scientists evaluated (to see which effectively inhibit fat accumulation and enhance fat-burning) there were two that demonstrated significant biological anti-adipocyte effects:
- sphaeranthus indicus flower
- and, mangosteen fruit.
As always, the easiest way to keep bad things from happening to your body is to keep bad things from entering your body in the first place.
Consume only the calories you burn, yes, but also make certain those calories are nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory.
Aging expert Dr. Terry Wahls explains, “correcting your lifestyle now can do more than just arrest disease progression, it may even reverse it.”
5. Venture Out Again to Your Local Farmers Market
Why would you want to eat a cucumber that was picked five weeks ago in another country, when you could eat one that was picked yesterday afternoon a few miles away?
To help you in your new goal of trying to eat more real food and less processed foods, you will likely find it helpful to rediscover your local farmers market.
A visit to your local farmers’ market can be an important part of your new, healthier lifestyle as it’s an efficient way to stock up on fresh, raw, high-quality produce for the entire week.
Here’s the deal: if you’re serious about improving your health – and really, what’s more important? – then you need to find solutions for getting more fresh vegetables into your daily diet. Period. End of story.
“I can understand why people are just tempted to eat take-out burritos and pizzas during the week. Getting healthier requires increased effort. But it’s do-able, and it’s worth it.”
Preparation is a Key to Slow the Aging Process
The way to make new habits “permanently stick” is to prepare internally first.
Before you can pick up a new healthier habit, you might need to create a time budget to determine in what ways you might be tempted to get in your own way.
Ask yourself: “if I were going to screw this up, how would I do it?”
Knowing beforehand where, when, and how you’ll be tempted to drop the good habit will help you stay in the game.
6. Balance Your Body’s Endocrine System to Slow Aging
If you’re a man in – or approaching – middle age, you may already know how challenging it can be to stay fit.
What you may not know, is that part of your challenge might be tied to your testosterone levels.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control reveal clearly that after age 45 there is a dramatic increase in disease outcomes.
This means that between the ages of 45 and 50, many people will either have encountered an unexpected and significant health challenge themselves or, that they will know someone close to them who has.
Aging For Men in Particular
A common struggle for men after age 50 is excessive weight gain.
Some nutritionists assert that metabolism slows by 10% each decade.
That means by age 40, you could be fatter than you were at age 20 – and that can open Pandora’s Box to a variety of other problems as the years pass by.
Strategic dieting and exercise interventions are the intuitive solution to muscle loss and fat gain. However, diet and exercise don’t always directly address the intrinsic metabolic changes that come with growing older.
Men simply produce less testosterone as they age.
Many experts believe that the higher the testosterone levels in a body, the more muscle mass that body will have, while also having less fat.
Though low testosterone and obesity do not have a simple cause-and-effect relationship, low testosterone can foster unhealthy weight gain which can then further decrease testosterone levels in our bodies.
This cycle can lead to some serious health problems like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer:
- Recently, over a thousand men were studied and it was discovered that prediabetic men had lower testosterone levels.
- In another study, six months of testosterone therapy significantly reduced glucose levels in men with type-2 diabetes who were also testosterone deficient (see sources below this article).
In some cases, natural bio-identical hormone therapies can help:
- Be aware that there is a difference in the synthetic testosterone manufactured by pharmaceutical companies, and the bioavailable testosterone that is compounded naturally. When you ask your doctor about the statistics and research for testosterone, be certain you know which type of product is being discussed (misunderstandings are common).
- While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is appropriate in some cases, it might make more sense to first improve lifestyle habits around nutrition and exercise.
- After exercising daily and eating consistently healthy for several months, one can more easily determine if those self-care protocols were all that was needed to improve health and vitality (before considering HRT).
Our responsibilities for self-care increase as we get older. There’s just more to do! More grooming, more check-ups, more details to attend to… this is just the way it is with aging:
7. Train Your Mind to See Solutions to Aging
If you’re reading this and you happen to be under the age of 50, it’s never too early to get a jump on improved health.
In fact, the sooner you start your lifestyle upgrades, the better.
If you are 50 or over: the time is now to begin your self-care protocols so that you increase your chances of living a robust, zestful, and fulfilling life.
There are two sobering statistics that I believe are important for you to know:
- there are scientists who now expect and predict cancer rates to rise 75% by the year 2030 — and other researchers are asserting that 1-in-every-3 people will, at some point in their lives, have cancer.
- according to the Centers for Disease Control, the leading causes of death starting at age 45 are malignant tumors and heart disease.
So, how can we avoid becoming one of those statistics?
Particular lifestyle habits have been proven to offset these disease outcomes.
You might be able to get away with consuming energy drinks and corn chips when you’re 23, but as the years pass it’s best to give your body the nutritious foods it requires in order to repair damaged cells.
One aspect of the anti-inflammatory lifestyle is that what works for one person is different than what works for another, and so the bigger point is: to stay on the journey – to keep fine-tuning your self-care until consistently excellent health is achieved while aging.
My mission in life is to inspire others to discover the joys and vibrancy of optimized health just for its own sake. And what I know for sure is that focusing on the negative tends to increase the likelihood of negative outcomes.
So today, I’m extending to you this invitation:
Any time you feel tempted to worry about anything today, I would like for you to immediately believe that there is a solution to that challenge.
The way out of a negative feeling is a positive thought followed by action.
No matter what concerns you have about aging, your body, your health, or your life, I’d like for you to imagine that there is a solution.
See how that feels, in your body, to put the bulk of your energy and awareness toward a positive solution.
When we hold space for the possibility of an aging solution, and when we seek out positive actions to achieve a particular goal, we are exponentially more likely to realize that solution.
By making small, gradual, and consistent improvements in our nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle techniques we can – unquestionably and dramatically – improve our vitality and reduce the risk of accelerated aging.
Additional Sources for Reducing Men’s Risk of Accelerated Aging:
Aging Terms: Definition of “Overweight” – http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/overweight
Accelerated Aging: Overweight People Don’t Live as Long – http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1555137
What is Adipocyte? – http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=15506
On Cellular Fat Storage and Aging – http://www.lef.org/magazine/2011/7/Shed-Pounds-by-Inhibiting-Cellular-Fat-Storage/Page-01
Fat Cell Myths around Aging – http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=21631
What Aging Really Is – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3400891/
Reasons to Eat Local Foods As Part of a Smart Aging Plan – https://www.thespruce.com/reasons-to-eat-local-foods-4015507
Testosterone and Blood Glucose Levels – http://pcmedicalminute.com/correlation-between-prediabetes-and-testosterone-levels-in-men/