Put your heart into it
Coronary heart disease is the number one killer for men and breathlessness could be the first sign that all is not as it should be.
Exercise could reduce your risk by as much as 50 per cent so if you're a couch potato it's time to get moving. Physical activity also helps to reduce high blood pressure and delay the onset of osteoporosis. According to Dr Ian Banks, president of the Men's Health Forum, just getting off the tube or bus one stop earlier and walking home can be all it takes to stay heart healthy.
Switch from red meats to white. Go for fish such as mackerel and sardines, which are rich in heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids.
Eat less fat, especially saturated fat, replacing it with starchy high-fibre foods such as potatoes, bread, pasta and rice. Research shows that cutting your total fat intake to 30 per cent or less of your daily calorie intake can reduce blood cholesterol levels by 10 per cent. This can reduce your risk of heart disease by 20 per cent.
Hold back on the sugar and salt.
Watch the drink
There's nothing wrong with a tipple or two but if you are downing the pints on a nightly basis you're just asking for trouble - not to mention a beer belly. Try sticking to the government guidelines of up to three or four units a day.
- Drinking more slowly by taking smaller sips and alternating alcohol with non-alcoholic drinks can help.
- Drink half pints, which equal one unit instead of pints.
- Eating before going to the pub can reduce the effects of alcohol.
- After a heavy session abstain for at least 48 hours to allow time for the body to recover.
Stub out now
We all know that smoking takes years from your life, so if you're still doing it, make a real effort to give it up now.
Remember the risk of an early death is almost twice as high in smokers, and smoking is also associated with cardiovascular disease, lung disorders, gastrointestinal tract disease, some cancers and sexual disorders. On a more positive note the benefits of giving up are huge:
- You will breathe more easily
- That dreadful smoker's cough will disappear.
- Circulation will improve.
- Erections will become more rigid (smoking can impair blood flow).
- Your sperm count will increase.
- Your risk of lung cancer is halved within five years.
- Your risk of heart disease is halved within 12 months.
Protect your scalp
You can't stop thinning hair - it's a natural process that affects most men to some degree in their lifetime. It may also be genetic or a sudden shock can be a trigger. But what you can do is try some natural remedies to slow down the process.
- Jojoba oil mixed with a little essential oil of rosemary and massaged into the scalp removes old layers of cells and increases circulation.
- Include plenty of high quality protein foods such as lean meat and fish in your diet and supplement with zinc and a high strength vitamin B complex.
- Alternatively you could take a leaf out of Uri Geller's book and practise daily yoga head or shoulder stands to boost circulation to the scalp.
Lose that paunch
If your weight is starting to creep up and you can't see your feet for your tummy it is time to take action. Carrying around too much weight can make you tired and breathless, as well as more vulnerable to heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, osteoarthritis, back pain and depression.
- Eat less fat and more carbohydrate, fibre, fruit and vegetables.
- Watch your alcohol intake.
- Get moving. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week.
Boost your libido
If your love life has started to take a downward turn, don't despair. Stress, overwork and depression can all lead to low levels of libido. This is usually only temporary with things getting better once stress levels are addressed.
However, if erections continue to be a thing of the past don't be embarrassed to seek help from your GP. Impotence is a common problem and is often due to physical causes such as diabetes and poor circulation, which can be treated. Meanwhile try these passion boosters:
- Spend some time with your partner and talk about what is important to you both. Describing your needs and wishes to each other should bring you emotionally closer.
- According to recent US research previously sedentary people who started exercising reported a 30 per cent increase in sexual activity and a 26 per cent increase in the number of orgasms.
- Herbal remedies such as ginkgo biloba, muira puama and damiana are all said to have aphrodisiac properties and are worth a try.
- Essential oils can also put you in the mood for love. Put them in your nighttime bath or use in burners to hot up the atmosphere. Good choices include jasmine, ylang ylang, sandalwood and frankincense.
Sleep is the most natural way to recharge your batteries and a good night's sleep can help to keep you looking fresh and young. Make sure you get your eight-hour quota.
- If insomnia starts to darken your nights try a soothing cup of camomile tea or a herbal helper such as valerian or passiflora.
- Alternatively, a few drops of pure essential lavender oil sprinkled on your pillow can help induce sweet dreams.
- If your concentration starts to wander, a dose of ginkgo may help to bring it back in line. Recent research showed that taking a 120mg standardised ginkgo biloba extract can significantly improve your short-term memory, whatever your age.
- Your memory is a muscle and just like others in your body needs exercise to keep it fit.
- Read books, do crosswords and mental exercises.