By Guest Blogger Paula Jager CSCS
We’ve spent the last three fitness posts on aging women and menopause–what about the other gender? Is Male Menopause a real phenomenon or do most guys just seem to like hot little sports cars after age 50?
Men do indeed go through decreasing testosterone/dhea levels related to aging. While hormones decline more gradually and effects are more subtle fitness and healthy nutrition can play a big part in how they age and are able to handle challenges later in life. While there are many differences between men and women (and I am thankful for those differences physiologically there are also many similarities.
The one “advantage” to me is their hormonal make up as compared to women. Most men, (not all) have about 10 to 20 times the amount of testosterone as the average woman. That’s a big helper in developing and maintaining both muscle and leanness. So, they have a little edge because we all know the more muscle one has the more efficient ones metabolism is. However, they too must still eat right and move or like women they will lose that muscle unless they use it.
I’d like to highlight a case in point: Ricky–an average 62 year old man; a man that doesn’t make his living in fitness but rather in real estate.
Background: growing up the oldest of 5 in the rural south of the 50’s – food was homemade, nutritious and relatively healthy. Activities were not Nintendo or hours of video games but rather playing outside, at the beach and being very active. Sports in high school included track and football. College was frat parties. Late 20’s and early 30’s consisted of growing a career and recreational running (10 and 15 k’s) with some resistance training–nothing excessive by any means.
An Achilles injury prevented running of any excess in the early 40’s but he continued a normal exercise routine of resistance training and cardio machines. At the age of 50 a routine ekg detected that a lifelong heart murmur was getting louder and warranted yearly monitoring. Even with a relatively intense level of training there were zero symptoms present. At age 59, the ekg despite the complete lack of symptoms showed something very wrong. “Let’s continue to watch” the doctors stated until we have symptoms. Two years later the lack of symptoms greatly concerned the doctors but not as much as the severity of the tests; they looked so bad they rx’d replacing the congenitally defective aortic valve now. It was scary to say the least especially when you had been doing so many things right and felt great.
After a major operation at the Mayo Clinic in which the doctors had to perform 2 open heart surgeries in one day they found “plaque on the valve flapping in the bloodstream hanging on by a thread” and a frighteningly critical time for his wife and family. Ricky was a “moment away from a major stroke”, they said. They actually used his case for research; they had never seen anyone with that bad of a valve issue with no symptoms– they tallied that up to his physical conditioning and healthy nutrition.
The doctors were amazed at his recovery; Ricky was walking 5 miles 12 days after open heart surgery. 3 weeks later, he was lunging on the beach as shown in this video.
Not everyone lives the life of a 24/7 fitness professional and a humorous incident was highlighted in this post shortly after the heart surgery. . . But there was a reason and Sarah correctly pointed out his heart needed to heal and he was craving saturated fat – the preferred fuel for the heart. Sure enough after about 2 to 3 months of homemade milkshakes the cravings disappeared.
And here’s Ricky 62 years old and one year post open heart surgery; relatively lean, training hard at the gym and living what most would call a “normal” lifestyle. He’s not excessive or off the charts. He won’t train with me (his wife), he thinks I am too intense and a little crazy but train he does–a sensible routine consisting of resistance training 2-3 times a week and cardiovascular exercise 4 to 5 times a week. He does eat what I eat and truly appreciates the organic, home cooked traditional foods and lifestyle. He still enjoys a few beers a couple of times a week with the boys and golfs on weekends. Does he listen to me 100%, absolutely not, not even close–but what husband does? Yet we have influenced the other in many positive ways over the last 26 years. And some of you out there, I’m reading your mind. You’re feeling sorry for him–being married to me–aren’t you?
Moral of the Story: no matter the age, no matter the gender, no matter the challenge life might throw your way if your lifestyle, exercise and nutrition are in check it will make it smoother and easier to deal with and overcome. The choices are ours and the excuses just that.