When I turned 50 in May 2013, I was pretty fortunate. My family was thriving. Professionally, I was doing what I wanted to be doing. And physically, I was fitter than ever.
I was surfing the Maldives, skiing as much powder as I could find, climbing the Grand Tetons, and training regularly with some of the most accomplished athletes in the world.
When my AARP card arrived in the mail, I laughed and shredded it.
In no small part, the life I have now, just a couple of years past my half-century mark, is the result of decades of research into the best ways to achieve and maintain peak health — physical, mental, emotional and sexual — through all stages of life.
Twenty years ago, I embarked on this journey in order to stave off a number of serious medical problems that doctors told me were my genetic destiny, including prostate cancer and diabetes. Now, with my book Your New Prime: 30 Days to Better Sex, Eternal Strength, and a Kick-Ass Life After 40, I’m making it my mission to share what I’ve learned (all the things every man should do) with men of all ages so that they can beat the odds as I did.
Here are things every man should do for optimal health after 40
Skip the long cardio workouts.
Not only is slow cardio — like taking a long run — time consuming, research shows it can also suck away your testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) levels. And long bike rides can contribute to erectile dysfunction and other prostate problems if you spend too much time on the bike seat. Instead, I recommend focusing on a mix of strength, mobility, and short, high-intensity training, which I call “PRIME Training” (Peak Repetition Intervals at Maximum Effort). This involves an all-out effort doing rowing, burpees, or similar exercises over 20 to 30 seconds followed by 1 to 2 minutes of rest between sets. This type of training promotes lean muscle, helps drop fat, kicks up testosterone and HGH levels and reduces inflammation. Basically, it kicks ass!
Focus on eating more protein.
As we age, our muscle breaks down. So combined with hard, fast exercise and strength training, older adults also need to eat more protein to help maintain our muscle mass. The official guidelines just don’t cut it for guys who are 40 plus. For exercising males, I recommend as much as 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (which is equal to 1 gram per pound of body weight). Try to eat organic and plant-based proteins as much as possible.
Cold showers or ice baths after exercise are a great way to reduce inflammation and can help in boosting your testosterone and fertility. I also recommend keeping your bedroom temperature between 60 and 67 degrees, which experts say enhances sleep quality.
Focus on overall strength and flexibility — not a six-pack.
Washboard abs are great, but they’re not what matters in your later years. Instead, put a priority on the stuff that’s really going to keep you healthy as you move forward in life: strength, flexibility, and mobility. It’s more important to keep up with your kids without pulling a hamstring or jacking your back than it is to have busting biceps. Mix up your training so you become an all-round “athlete” rather than a “runner” or a “cyclist.” Variety in your exercise program will pay off in the long run through less injury from doing repetitive activities, such as high mileage runs every day.
Beets contain nitrates that aid in the dilation of blood vessels, which is good for both your heart and sexual health. Combine raw beets with ginger and lemon juice for an early morning charge. Use a blender, not a juicer, to mix it all up with added water. (Juicers strip away the healthy fiber that can help maintain blood sugar levels.)
Ditch the aftershave.
Aftershave and most other personal care products contain compounds called phthalates that have been linked to infertility in men, low testosterone, and many other chronic disorders. Instead, choose fragrance-free personal care products and ditch the aftershave. Look for natural, scent-free products or those made from natural plant-based oils. Basically, any personal care products that smell (soaps, shampoo, etc.) usually contain phthalates. I use raw coconut oil to shave and moisturize and a natural coconut-based soap. And I never wear aftershave or cologne.
Embrace healthy fats.
Fats have had a bad rap over the years, but eating the right fats (omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated) is critical for us guys as we reach our later years. The fats in avocados, nuts, coconut oil, and other healthy fats have been shown to increase testosterone, help with memory, reduce the risk of heart disease, and promote weight loss. So make fats your friend.
Go on periodic fasts.
Adult-onset diabetes is becoming an epidemic. I was personally diagnosed with pre-diabetes a few years back (something I discovered through genetic testing). One of the ways I manage to keep my blood sugar under control is through intermittent fasting, which has been shown to decrease insulin levels. Fasting also has other benefits, including decreasing inflammation and boosting your natural human growth hormone (HGH) levels. I typically fast once a week, on Tuesdays. There’s no real magic to it. I just don’t eat for a day!
Give your doctor a check up.
You should never take health advice from the unhealthy. So next time you see your doctor, ask yourself, “Is he or she someone who walks the talk?” “Is she up on the latest clinical studies and research?” “Does he have an opinion on the latest diets and health programs?” (For example: Paleo, intermittent fasting, the saturated fat debate and so on). You want your health team to be proactive, so ask informed questions. If you don’t like what you are seeing or hearing, then switch to a new team!