A Man's Guide to a Healthy Life

You wouldn't ask an average guy to stand beside you at your wedding. After all, you want someone you can call your best man. And you probably wouldn't tell your boss that you put "just average" effort into that critical project—unless, of course, you have only an average aversion to unemployment.

Guess what? Settling for average health is an even dumber move. That's because in the past half century, "average" health has come to mean overweight, sedentary, and significantly more vulnerable to illness than men were a generation or two ago.

"Our bodies have changed over the years," says John Elefteriades, M.D., chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Yale Unviersity's school of medicine. "We've engineered physical exertion out of our lives, and we eat all day. It's time for our bodies to revert to the way they're supposed to function."

Fortunately, Men's Health isn't the average men's magazine. We've scoured the latest research and talked to the nation's top docs to bring you more than a dozen strategies that can help you achieve chart-topping vitals. Follow our advice, and you'll reengineer your body for optimal performance—in the bedroom, at the gym, and most important, on the exam table.

So go ahead, dust off your tux. In a few months, you'll be your own best man.

Protect Against: Heart Disease


Odds that the average 40-year-old guy will develop heart disease in his lifetime: 1 in 2

Percentage of male heart-disease sufferers who never showed any symptoms before it killed them:
50

Tame That Temper
According to a recent study review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, angry outbursts are more likely to cause heart disease in men than in women. While the reason for the gender difference isn't clear, the effect on your arteries is: chronic inflammation that can lead to a chest-clutching clog. Can't manage your anger? Maurice Schweitzer, Ph.D., a psychology researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, recommends eliminating the little everyday irritants in your life—that leaky faucet, your cluttered desk at the office, those unanswered e-mails lingering in your inbox. This way, when the bigger triggers hit—and they will—your short fuse won't already be smoldering.

Lower Your Heart Volume
Listen up: Is your work environment annoyingly noisy? In a 2010 study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, people who were chronically exposed to loud noises while on the job were twice as likely to have heart disease as those who toiled in blissful silence. "Noise exposure may trigger the release of stress hormones, which can constrict coronary arteries and reduce blood supply to your heart," says study author Wenqi Gan, M.D., Ph.D. So interrupt the aural assault by taking periodic "quiet" breaks of 10 to 15 minutes: Wear noise-canceling headphones or go for a stroll to a less populated part of the building. Also consider turning off the ringer on your phone and muting your computer to eliminate the occasional shrill bursts of noise.

YOUR MOST VITAL VITALS

Blood pressure
Average Guy: 121/71 MILLIMETERS OF MERCURY
Target: 120/80 MMHG
Helps diagnose: Heart-disease risk, stroke risk

Improve Your Number: Don't let revenge leave you cold. People who focus on blaming others when conflict arises face an increase in systolic blood pressure, according to a 2010 study in the British Journal of Psychology. Anytime you feel you've been seriously slighted, reappraise the situation. "Try to understand the aggressor and what circumstances may have triggered the behavior—stress, for instance," says Maurice Schweitzer, Ph.D., a psychology researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. "This gives you a richer context and better insight, and can help moderate your reaction to the outburst."
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