Your decade-by-decade guide to keeping healthy and even building fitness – as you go through life.
Who doesn’t want to live longer and perform better? You wouldn’t be reading this if that wasn’t part of your philosophy for life. We know that because, at Clickitch, it’s our ethos too. Our goal is to give you the tools – the dietary know-how, exercise insight, and mental-health guidance – and you get to run with it, literally.
Report back to us in 20,30 or 40 years from now, and tell us how our philosophy worked out for you. But in the meantime, here’s how you can identify the health saboteurs that stalk men at different stages of their lives – and the expert tips on how best to combat them.
IN YOUR… 20s
Statistically, there’s a whole host of plus points at this time of life. Your testosterone levels are probably the highest they’ll ever be – making this a great age to be building muscle. Human growth hormone (HGH) levels are double the levels they’ll be in your 40s; your fast-twitch muscles are at their pinging peak; and lung power and bone density won’t get any stronger naturally than they are now.
As one study of 1200 men (carried out by Harvard Medical School and the Rikshospitalet-Radiumhospitalet Trust in Oslo, Norway) also confirmed, men in their 20s record the highest sexual activity satisfaction levels. What’s the worry, then? Well, believe it or not, those sex stats are a clue… worry itself could be the cause if you’re unsatisfied with your sexual performance at this age.
Around 8% of men aged between 20 and 29 report problems with erectile dysfunction. Although it’s a condition that can have biological origins, researchers from the Western Australian Institute of Medical Research point to mental health issues as a common thread at this time of life. Issues such as premature ejaculation may be linked to anxiety and stress among young adults looking to build relationships, live up to unrealistic expectations and cope with new work responsibilities and leaving home.
WHAT TO TAKE
► Muscle boosters – seize on your natural advantages to build up further bulk now. Taking a mix of beta-alanine, arginine, and creatine prior to training will boost muscle mass, say studies in the Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition.
IN YOUR… 30s
‘The key risks men face during their 30s. and which impact general health, are more related to mental health and stress disorders,’ says Dr Michael Barnish, head of genetics and nutrition for the Reviv medical spa chain.
The biggest killer of men under 45 is suicide. ‘Although less common than in your 20s, these conditions are the ones you’ll most likely face in your 30s. Testicular cancer is also more likely to occur in younger men than older, so continuing to check for any lumps and bumps on your testicles is recommended.’
The demands of a career and a young family can pinch the time you have for activities such as team sports. But do your best to protect your exercise time – your performance will benefit from the still relatively high levels of testosterone you’re producing at this age. while working out will also boost your mental health.
‘There’s no doubt that, unless we do resistance exercises, we’ll begin to lose muscle at a rate of around 5% per decade from the age of 30,’ warns Dr. Michael Mosley, GP, journalist, and diet expert. ‘The best thing you can do is make sure you’re doing plenty of press-ups, squats, weights – whatever works for you. I’m 63 and do 40 press-ups twice a day. A study of 1000 firefighters showed those who could do 40 press-ups in their 30s were far less likely to get heart disease in their 50s than those who only managed 10.’
IN YOUR… 40s
‘Once men reach their 40s, the body’s metabolism begins to slow down, and their testosterone levels begin to decline,’ says Dr Barnisli. This further alters metabolism, and one side effect of lower testosterone can be reduced ability to maintain muscle mass. This can cause weight gain, particularly round the abdomen. Salvation can come through a greater focus on the diet at this time.
‘To minimise this impact, aim to eat “clean”. That means knowing where food has come from, and avoiding anything over-processed or industrially farmed,’ adds Dr Barnish.
Dr Mosley concurs. ‘When it comes to diet, the healthiest diet on the planet is, without a doubt, the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in oily fish, veg, nuts, legumes, olive oil, fruit and some red wine. Although low-carb, keto, paleo and other diets have their ardent fans, there is very little evidence that they are sustainable or good for you in the long-term.’
As for exercise, do make sure you’re doing a mixture of activities. ‘Try brisk walking, running, or cycling to get your heart going, but also resistance exercise to build your muscles,’ says Dr. Mosley. ‘Don’t forget some balance exercises, like tai chi or yoga – and make sure that you’re getting enough good-quality sleep. It’s essential for revitalizing the brain and body, and it also plays a critical role in helping maintain a healthy immune system.’
IN YOUR… 50s
The health risk factors for men increase as we reach our 50s – but forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes. ‘The three main problems for men entering middle age are raised risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer,’ says Dr Barnish.
Getting on first-name terms with your GP would be a good bit of networking at this age, for sure. ‘Make sure you participate in any local disease-screening programmes, like blood-pressure checks or blood-sugar analyses. These are simple and fast tests, and can catch things early.’
You can take a few steps without entering the doctor’s surgery too. ‘Key to all these risks for men in their 50s is that it’s a time when they can really pile on the fat,’ says Dr. Mosley. ‘You’re eating exactly the same as you were before, but your metabolism has slowed down. Men, on average, put on around 0.5 kg for every year between 40 and 60. This typically leads to a bigger gut, which in turn leads to raised blood sugars (raising the risk of type 2 diabetes), and lots of snoring, which in turn leads to poor sleep.’
“You can benefit from lifestyle changes even into your 80s”
‘Get a tape measure and measure your waist, around the belly button. Don’t cheat. If your waist is more than half your height (eg if you are 6ft/1.80cm tall and your waist is more than 36 inches/90cm), you’re in trouble,’ adds Dr. Mosely.
Maintaining a regular exercise routine can help combat weight gain, and looking at more drastic dieting measures may help, too. ‘You might want to try intermittent fasting,‘ he suggests. ‘Either the 5:2 approach, where you cut your food to around 800 calories a day for two days a week – or time-restricted eating, where you only eat within a narrow time window. There’s some decent evidence that you lose fat rather than muscle this way, particularly if you are also exercising.’
Protein-rich meals will help men achieve muscle retention at this age, and try calcium- based supplements – the average 50-year-old needs around 1200mg of calcium per day for healthy bones.
IN YOUR… 60s AND BEYOND
‘Studies have shown countless times that a change in lifestyle after 60 years old, and even way into your 80s, can have benefits to health,’ says Dr Barnish. ‘Power exercise [such as squats, squat jumps and lunges] with some endurance is advised. The reason is that muscular tissue is a powerhouse of energy- producing mitochondria, and these cellular structures are essential for keeping your body full of energy and vitality.
Nurturing them with some power exercises will certainly help to maintain health for longer.’
Again, Dr. Barnish suggests men in their 60s look to ensure that their diet helps maintain their testosterone levels – but also suggests investigating bioidentical hormone replacement alongside clean eating. A doctor may be able to monitor and maintain testosterone levels with a simple cream containing naturally derived hormones that are chemically identical to testosterone in the body.
‘We all have different genetic- predispositions for losing bone density as we age, and genetic testing has become widely available so preventative measures can be put into place, if you are predisposed, way before disease progresses. This will allow you to maintain exercise for longer with no issues.’