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--- news (10/18/2012)
You take your health seriously. You go to the gym. You work out with weights. You can bench press 250 pounds and do ten pull-ups. You watch your diet. You ran two marathons last year. Your belly is flat with a hint of the underlying rock hard abs (a result of crunches too numerous to count – though you do).

You are the model of male health, a bit smug as you pass your beer bellied cohorts in the hallway. Yet, you probably are missing elements of a truly healthy life style. How’s your balance? Do you ever meditate? How flexible are you? How’s your core strength (not just abs that show)?

As we age – and you will too – we need to maintain balance. Falls are a major problem in later years. How do you feel about climbing onto your roof to clear off the limb that fell in the last storm? Unless you can stand on one foot while doing lunges, you’d probably better not.

Do you take time each day to relax? To let the worries fall away? No, of course not. It’s not “manly.” But tension and anxiety can be a killer. Healthy men die of heart attacks because they don’t manage their stress.

Can you touch your toes? Men are less flexible than women, especially in the ham strings – the large muscles in the back of your thighs. Hamstring injuries are one of the hardest to recover from. Read the injury reports for baseball and football players. How about turning your head? Swiveling your body at the waist?

Can you maintain a plank position (sort of like a pushup) for two minutes? Five minutes? Can you do side planks? How about a side plank while raising one leg? These exercises strengthen the core muscles that ab crunches miss.

What we’re getting to in a rather roundabout way is this: You need to do something more than just go to the gym and do the “grunt” exercises.

There are many different kinds of exercise programs that address the physical deficits that most men suffer. Yoga and Pilates moves address the issues of balance, core strength and stress relief. There are myriad hybrids of these two basic programs:
Boxilates ( Boxing and Pilates), Yogalates, Piyoga, etc. There are programs that mix the disciplines into a smorgasbord of movements with a creative anagrams to describe their content.

So, why don’t men take these classes? The classes, though co-ed, are attended overwhelmingly by women. Do men think it’s too “easy”? That they won’t get a workout?

Wrong on both counts. As a male in reasonably good health, I have taken some of these classes and they are NOT easy. You get a great workout while addressing the weaknesses most men have. A strong core prevents back injuries. Increased flexibility and balance help prevent falls. And if you do fall (I hit the deck at least once a year slipping on ice) you’ll be better able to handle it without injury.

Open up your exercise landscape. Take a class. If you’re the lone wolf type, check out a Pilates or Yoga or hybrid exercise DVD from the library. Your body will thank you.

Duard Mosley

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