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Seven habits of unhealthy men
July 15, 2007
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Midlife Wisdom For Men Issue #086, July 15, 2007

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

· Seven habits of unhealthy men

· Exercise Your Heart, and Grow Your Brain

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Written by Noel McNaughton Midlife-Men.com (c) copyright 2007 midlife-men.com

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If you like this e-zine, please do a friend and me a big favour and forward it to him. If a friend DID forward this to you and if you like what you read, please subscribe by visiting Midlife Wisdom for Men.

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Welcome to this issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

When I was hosting a television show in my early thirties, I worked with a cameraman in his fifties whose favourite expression was "if you have your health, you have everything". At the time I was still invincible, and thought the 'old codger' (that's how I thought of him), should get a life. I am older and wiser now, and have learned he was right - staying in good shape mentally and physically has a great deal to do with quality of life as we hit midlife and beyond. Recent research proves just how right he was!

I get a lot of email from women wondering what to do to help their husbands. Their pleas range from "how do I get him to look after himself?", to "how do I get him to take me seriously?", and a whole range of other complaints. The article on the seven habits of unhealthy men below pretty well covers it.

There are about 1140 words in the articles in this newsletter, which should take you about three and a half minutes to read.

Blessings,

Noel

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Seven habits of unhealthy men

This list is adapted from an article in the Edmonton Journal the other day, and I thought you might find it useful. I know I am guilty of some of these habits (see "Falling for the 'no pain, no gain' myth"), and maybe you are too.

  1. Skipping your annual physical - pick any day: birthday, anniversary, the queen's birthday, whatever, and always get a medical on that day whether you want to or not
  2. Living in denial: More men than women are overweight. About 20 percent of Canadian men have hypertension caused by alcohol, obesity, high salt intake, and stress. Men are more likely than women to develop - and die from - diabetes. But we men still have the 'it'll never happen to me' syndrome
  3. Falling for the 'no pain, no gain' myth - our bodies can't do what they used to do. It is a mistake to suddenly decide to get in shape, and go at it at the same level we did when we were 30. Follow the one-tenth rule: on day one, do one-tenth of the exercise you think you could do. On day two, two-tenths, etc.
  4. Using alcohol to treat depression: men don't suffer from depression as often as women (statistics say 1 in 10 women, 1 in 20 men, although that is arguable, as depression in men often goes undiagnosed due to the symptoms being different in men than women). But men tend to self-medicate with alcohol, which is itself a depressant. You feel a bit better at first, and then worse than ever. Mix it with country music, and you have a suicidal combination! (some statistics a few years ago showed that depressed people who listened to country music committed suicide more frequently than people who listened to other types of music, such as 'easy listening'). Rather than pick up the bottle, get some exercise, eat a balanced diet, and see your doctor. Also get "The Irritable Male Syndrome" so you can recognise the symptoms of depression.
  5. Ignoring it when you "can't get it up" - whether caused by age, medication, depression, hormones or vascular disease, 35 percent of all men suffer from some level of this malady. But they don't want to talk about it. See your doctor; don't just order some little blue pills online.
  6. Ignoring relationship issues - when your spouse says she is unhappy with your relationship, don't ignore her. Listen to what she is saying, whether you want to or not. And listen to understand, not just leap in with a 'yes but'. Use 'I' statements, and speak your truth as well as listening.
  7. Losing sight of what is important - it's a good idea to stop from time to time and ask yourself who you are, and why you are here. Also to get some balance in your life. All work and no play makes for a wasted and unsatisfying life. It seems as we get older that we are more likely to work too much, which can not only make us and our families unhappy, but can also make us dead. The Japanese even have a word for working oneself to death: karoshi. A very helpful organization for getting a sense of mission, and even helping us balance our lives, is the mankind project's training programs.

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Exercise Your Heart, and Grow Your Brain

You have probably already noticed that by the time we hit midlife, we have put on a bit of weight, which is harder to take off than it used to be. We are also a little stiffer, and it is a little harder to summon the discipline to work out regularly. Summoning that discipline is critical, though, if we are to maintain our quality of life as we age.

And it is not just for our bodies. Our brains need us to stay in shape too.

We already know that the more we use our brains, the better, and quicker we can think and solve problems. Learning new things, whether taking courses, learning music or even doing crosswords or sudoku, can keep us mentally sharp well into our 90s and beyond.

My Dad is a good example of this. He has always been in good shape, and has read widely, not to mention using his brain to solve all kinds of problems on the farm, and in the feedmill he used to run. Now at age 92 he is as mentally sharp as ever, and keeps busy with round dancing, playing cards at the seniors centre, and building things in his shop. Recent research by Arthur F. Kramer, PhD, and his colleagues, shows that regular aerobic exercise not only improves our thinking ability, but can actually make our brain bigger.

Kramer is director of the Biomedical Imaging Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He and his team studied a group of 59 volunteers who did not exercise regularly. "These folks were basically couch potatoes -- healthy but sedentary, and ranging in age from 60 to 79," said Dr. Kramer.

At the start of the study, the researchers used MRI to take precise measures of brain volume to use as a baseline. Half the group was then enrolled in an aerobics program, starting out moderately, but working up to a vigorous workout for one hour three times a week. The other half began a less strenuous "toning and stretching" program, using exercise bands at a pace slow enough that they didn't raise their heart rates significantly. Both groups kept it up for six months. Diet was neither studied nor controlled. After the six months, the volunteers had a follow-up MRI, and the researchers measured the volume of both grey matter and white matter in their brains, and compared them with the initial measures.

The brain's grey matter is composed mostly of neurons or "computational units." It processes inputs (electrochemical impulses) and creates outputs, while the white matter consists of nerve fibres that carry information and act as "telephone wires between the neurons."

Exercise makes a bigger brain

In the group that did the aerobic exercise there was a notable increase in both grey and white matter in several regions of the brain, compared with no change in grey or white matter in the "stretch and tone" group. Dr. Kramer explains that many studies show that exercise boosts the brain's functional capacities -- being able to memorize, or count backward -- but no one had investigated structural changes.

"This was pure anatomy," he says. Exercise actually increases the size of the brain. "And it doesn't take much." He say, "By walking 45 to 60 minutes, three times a week, people get measurable benefits."

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Actual Newspaper Headlines:

  • Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
  • Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?
  • Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told

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The Mankind Project The ManKind Project® offers trainings which support men in developing lives of integrity, accountability, and connection to feeling. Our trainings challenge men to develop their abilities as leaders, fathers, and elders as ways of offering their deepest gifts in service to the world.

The ManKind Project's New Warrior Training Adventure® is an intense, transformative men's initiation which invites men to forge a deep conscious connection between head and heart. The NWTA offers men a powerful, challenging opportunity to look at all aspects of their lives in a richly supportive environment.

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Got your copy of Picking Up The Burning Feather yet? It will help you on your spiritual journey.

Just go to Picking Up The Burning Feather: A Spiritual Guide For Midlife Men , and follow the instructions.

Enjoy!

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I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to noel@midlife-men.com . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.

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Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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