Mix up your moves for Movember - new exercise ideas for men's health
The month of November is all about shining a spotlight on men’s health issues. The Movember Foundation identifies prostate and testicular cancer as two significant health issues but also points to the prevalence of suicide and depression among many men. One in 10 Canadian men will experience major depression in the course of their lives and 75% of suicides in Canada are men. It turns out being strong and silent can affect your mental health.
Physical activity is known to be good for reducing the risk of long-term illness, and it has a positive effect on mental health by boosting endorphins and reducing stress. But it’s not always easy to get motivated to do the same workout, day in and day out.
According to Nsuani Baffoe, personal training regional manager for GoodLife Fitness in downtown Toronto, the best way to maintain your fitness enthusiasm is to mix it up. It’s good for your mind, but also great for building all-over strength and endurance. So, what’s out there for men to mix up their muscle-centric workouts? Baffoe recommends these fun, effective options.
Yoga. For men who are used to pumping iron, the idea of yoga might seem foreign. In fact, only 28 percent of men do yoga on a regular basis (2016 Yoga in America study). The reality is yoga is the perfect activity to round out a strength and cardio-focused fitness program and it’s a perfect workout to build active recovery into your routine.
Baffoe says yoga strengthens core muscles while strength training doesn’t. You need core strength for lateral twisting, spinal arch and balance challenges of certain positions (downward dog, planks and warrior). Yoga can also help maximize your performance by training you to breathe more efficiently, reducing blood pressure and lowering stress.
Animal Flow. The name says it all. Animal Flow is a type of ground-based bodyweight exercise done on all fours. The movements simulate animals (think apes, crabs and bears crawling) and incorporates elements of yoga and gymnastics. Since it’s done using body weight, animal flow is a perfect option for men looking to build strength, tone, power, and endurance. Its primal feel appeals to your inner animal and it can be included in almost any workout program.
Martial arts-inspired fitness. It doesn’t get much better than recreating the moves from your favourite Kung Fu movie…and getting fit while you do it. Whether it’s kickboxing, jujitsu or fusion classes like BODYCOMBAT, martial arts fitness classes help vent stress, build strength and improve your cardio endurance.
Obstacle course race training. You already watch it on TV, so why not do it at the gym? Obstacle course race training is the latest fitness trend that channels your inner warrior. A great option for those looking to boost their athletic performance to new levels. The course looks a lot like a school playground, where you work on running faster, jumping higher and farther, balancing and bodyweight challenges.
Team sports. Recreational sports leagues are a great way to combine fun, physical activity and social connection. There’s a reason so many men sign up for evening hockey and summer soccer, not to mention tennis, basketball and more. Research shows men are mostly attracted to ice hockey, golf, basketball, soccer, and baseball, and roughly one in four men participate in ice hockey.
For men, the perfect fitness combination for physical and mental health includes cardiovascular, strength, flexibility and endurance. It’s also important that men find ways to build in time with others who share similar interests, so group training and sports leagues are good options. The best way to achieve all these is to mix up your workout and try new types of fitness.