A man’s fitness level is indelibly linked to better vitality, staying healthier and warding off diseases. The latest research on exercise expands into areas of brain and cognitive function. In fact, test results show exercise can make you smarter.
Studies indicate that during fitness routines of moderately intense physical movement a person’s mental performance improves in three measurable ways.
- Reaction time
- Perception of visual images
- Executive control processes. The most positive influence on mental tasks is related to executive control in these areas:
- coordination of details (people, places, events etc)
- utilization of memory, eye focus/concentration
- Harvard Health Pubications: A Healthier, Fitter YOU – Simple Strength Training Tips
- Harvard Health Publications: The Secret to Better Health – Exercise
- CDC: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
In the media and everywhere you look for advice, you’re bound to get some confusing news about diet. Don’t get discouraged. Instead, remember four key facts:
- What a man eats affects his appearance, energy and mental alertness. Above all, his choices reflect in his health, attitude and how fast or slow his body will age. Read the CDC Article, Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight.
- America is on a downward track with the wrong foods. 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese. This trend leads to a higher complexity of degenerative disease conditions striking men and their families at younger ages.
- A majority of Americans do not eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables. Taking high-quality dietary health supplements can provide certain nutrients which may be lacking or missing from the daily diet. Read Harvard Medical School’s Family Health Guide on 13 Ways to Add Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet.
- Eating healthy is not a punishment, instead it provides opportunity. The more that’s understood, the greater the options you have to increase your quality of life. The old adage “you are what you eat” is real. A male’s body requires macro and micro nutrients to keep it running and in good shape. By selecting healthy snacks and foods, the physical requirements are well covered. The better a man eats, any number of activities he does that require energy, focus and libido is therefore more likely to improve. Learn more by reading Harvard Medical School’s Family Health Guide on The New Dietary Dos and Don’ts.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins are organic substances (made by plants or animals), minerals are inorganic elements that come from the earth; soil and water and are absorbed by plants. Animals and humans absorb minerals from the plants they eat. Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that your body needs to grow and develop normally.
The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods. You can usually get all your vitamins from the foods you eat. However, sometimes that’s not possible due to our busy schedules. According to the CDC they suggest our bodies should have the following vitamins and minerals:
Vitamins: A, B6, B12, D, V E, Vitamin K: Can cause interactions with Coumadin
Minerals: Calcium, Chromium, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc
According to the American Institute of Stress, stress is difficult for scientists to define because it is a subjective sensation associated with varied symptoms that differ for each of us. In addition, stress is not always a synonym for distress. Situations like a steep roller coaster ride that cause fear and anxiety for some can prove highly pleasurable for others. Winning a race or election may be more stressful than losing, but this is good stress. Contemporary stress tends to be more pervasive, persistent and insidious because it stems primarily from psychological than physical threats. It is associated with ingrained and immediate reactions over which we have no control and that were originally designed to be beneficial. Reactions such as:
- Heart rate and blood pressure soar to increase the flow of blood to the brain to improve decision making
- Blood sugar rises to furnish more fuel for energy as the result of the breakdown of glycogen, fat and protein stores
- Blood is shunted away from the gut, where it is not immediately needed for purposes of digestion, to the large muscles of the arms and legs to provide more strength in combat, or greater speed in getting away from a scene of potential peril; clotting occurs more quickly to prevent blood loss from lacerations or internal hemorrhage
Medical and scientific research offers proof that sustained levels of unrelenting stress is a mediating factor in chronic disease. Amid the effects of stress is an increase in appetite and cravings for certain foods. This is partly due to the body’s release of cortisol during times of unresolved hardship.
Elevated cortisol levels resulting from chronic stress are associated with the following:
- Increased body weight
- Decreased muscle mass
- High blood pressure and hypertension
- Impaired immune function
- Memory and learning impairment
- Increased anxiety
- Reduced sexual drive
Managing stress is all about taking charge: Taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.
If your methods of coping with stress aren’t contributing to your greater emotional and physical health, it’s time to find healthier ones. There are many healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, but they all require change. You can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four A’s: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.
Since everyone has a unique response to stress, there is no “one size fits all” solution to managing it. No single method works for everyone or in every situation, so experiment with different techniques and strategies. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control.
- Harvard Health Publications Harvard Medical School:
- Stress Management: Approaches for Preventing and Reducing Stress
- HelpGuide.org: Stress Management: How to Reduce, Prevent, and Cope with Stress
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source: Vitamins, The Bottom Line
If you don’t eat a nutritious variety of foods, some supplements might help you get adequate amounts of essential nutrients. However, supplements can’t take the place of the variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet. According to the National Institute of Health and UCLA School of Public Health, they state scientific evidence shows that some dietary supplements are beneficial for overall health and for managing some health conditions. For example, calcium and vitamin D are important for keeping bones strong and reducing bone loss; folic acid decreases the risk of certain birth defects; and omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils might help some people with heart disease.
Clinical Trials of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Cancer Prevention by Peter Greenwald, Darrell Anderson, Stefanie A. Nelson, and Philip R. Taylor