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5 Things Every Lazy Middle-Aged Man Should Try

Ed Paget, osteopath and creator of the Scoliosis Correction Protocol, is a leading expert in movement optimization and holistic wellness, with a focus on lifestyle medicine to reverse root causes to add health span to lifespan.

 
Executive Contributor Edward Paget

Osteopath and Lifestyle Medicine Coach, Ed Paget shares his expertise on how to avoid – or reverse – the midlife health slump and weight gain.


a man has a nap on the couch joined by his little dog

I’m now firmly in middle age. From the little hair I still have I can see it’s grey, there’s a few wrinkles on around my eyes but I’m the same weight as I was when I was 18, maybe even a little lighter. The same isn’t true for my friend group. The ‘spare tire’ seems to get bigger every year and the health complaints keep mounting. Most think it is an inevitable part of ageing but, as I’ll explain below it isn’t inevitable, it isn’t due to genes or falling testosterone levels and, it isn’t due to getting older. 

 

What happens in as we get older. From a physiological point of view, it is harder for people to gain muscle as they age. In fact, if we don’t actively seek to keep it our muscles will tend to waste, the scientific term for this is sarcopenia. The decrease in muscle mass means we need less energy and it can also change our body’s ability to handle sugar, as muscle is a great way to use sugar up quickly, and less of it means more to be converted to fat. If we don’t match our caloric intake with our output, it will lead to weight gain. Fat, as we are discovering, can produce hormones and stress can dysregulate our normal hormonal rhythms. That means that middle age ends up with a confluence of factors that lead to the “dad bod.” Simply put: Decreased muscle from inactivity plus no change or even an increase in calories consumed equals fat. Add to this the stresses of middle age we can have hormonal dysregulation, high blood pressure, decreased mental wellbeing and a host of other physical and psychological problems that seem to affect men in their 40, 50 and 60.


5 tips can lazy middle-aged reverse these physical and mental changes


1. Get moving and stay active

Even when we don’t loose muscle a sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to weight gain. Put bluntly the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that physical inactivity is responsible for around two million deaths annually and warns it could be among the top ten leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and mental health disorders.


Actionable Tip: Start with small, achievable goals to incorporate more movement into your daily routine. Simple actions like doing one press-up or squat a day or taking a five-minute run to build a habit of regular activity. The 19th-century athlete Walter George, spent long hours working as a pharmacist and, as a result, couldn’t train. Instead, he started running on the spot between customers. He ended up holding the world record for the mile which wasn’t beaten for 30 years!


2. Embrace strength training

To counteract the loss of muscle, we need to do something that involves resistance. That means moving something that isn’t easily moved, like a weight or band. Not only does it help with weight management, but it also improves balance and coordination and keeps the hormones running just fine. When compared to men in their 20’s only a small percentage of middle age men meet the recommended guidelines for muscle-strengthening activities. This can be due to preserved business and with work and family commitments. However, I always question people about how busy they really are, and after 20 years of coaching, I usually find a time that people can exercise in. 


Actionable tip: Incorporate strength training into your daily routine without needing a gym. Keep weights around your home and lift them during phone calls or whenever you pass by. Lift your children, or someone elses…ok, maybe not but you get the idea. Simple exercises like squats and lunges can also be done at home, just make it a habit. Strength training just twice a week can make a significant difference in maintaining muscle mass and overall health.


3. Moderate your alcohol consumption

Many middle-aged men shift from binge drinking in their youth to more consistent, daily alcohol consumption. In a recent interview on my podcast, Your Lifestyle Is Your Medicine, I interviewed Kevin Smith (45) who was drinking 5 days a week and feeling the spread of middle age. He had an epiphany about 2 years ago when he realized his groggy mornings were the reason he was seeking out bad food and not going to the gym. Once he cut back and stopped drinking, he had the energy to go to the gym, joined a Cross Fit class, and he’s been at it ever since. Now he’s the strongest he’s ever been while rocking the body of a 20-year-old.

 

Actionable tip: What Kevin did is not for everybody, many people believe that giving up alcohol may seem like social suicide, but the group One Year No Beer advocates a more moderate approach, limiting your alcohol intake to special occasions and avoid making it a daily habit. They are also a great resource for those wanting to re-examine their relationship with alcohol. Also, with the advent of decent-tasting nonalcoholic options, not drinking doesn’t mean not socializing.


4. Pay attention to food labels

Just like my old high school teacher used to tell me, this is boring but important. The modern food environment is filled with ultra-processed foods (UPFs) high in fat, sugar, and salt. These foods might just lie at the core of our current obesity and heart disease epidemics. Our human brain is wired to seek out sugar, salt, and fat. Back when we were evolving these food were in short supply but provided essential calories and nutrients for our survival. We still have the legacy of our more primitive brain coupled with our ingenious ability to satisfy it…and turn a profit at the same time. Unfortunately, these highly addictive foods are marketed aggressively and can contribute to weight gain and other health issues


Actionable tip: Make a habit of reading food labels and choosing whole, minimally processed foods. Prepare meals at home using fresh ingredients, and be cautious of foods with long ingredient lists or those high in additives. Prioritizing nutrient-dense foods over convenience options can significantly improve your diet. I know it might sound a little preachy but finding time to cook with fresh food is one of the best things you can do for your body. If you genuinely have no time, there are some great resources to become more efficient with companies like Hello Fresh in the UK delivering fresh food to your house or Dashing Dishes offering meal kits for pick up in Canada.


5. Maintain mental and social health

A study in the British Medical Journal found that cognitive decline can begin as early as 45.


Actionable Tip: Engage in mentally stimulating activities like puzzles, board games, or learning new skills. Maintain social connections by scheduling regular meetups with friends or joining clubs and community groups. Activities that combine physical and mental engagement, such as playing sports or attending classes, are particularly beneficial.


Conclusion

Middle age doesn’t have to mean inevitable weight gain and decline. By staying active, incorporating strength training, moderating alcohol consumption, making mindful food choices, and maintaining mental and social health, men can defy the myth of unavoidable decline and enjoy a healthier, more vibrant life. Remember, the key is consistency and making sustainable lifestyle changes.


 

Edward Paget, Osteopath

Ed Paget is an osteopath, writer, and creator of the Scoliosis Correction Protocol. With over 18 years of experience, Ed has developed a unique system of assessments and treatments, aiming to uncover the root causes of illness or injury. His expertise led him to work with the Canadian National Speed Skating team and as part of Team Canada's medical contingent at the winter Olympics. Ed's approach focuses on quality of movement, addressing diet, stress, sleep, and mindset, all aspects of lifestyle medicine.. He holds degrees in Exercise and Sports Science and Osteopathy, along with certifications in Applied Functional Science, Performance Coaching and more.

 

References:


  1. World Health Organization. "Physical Inactivity: A Global Public Health Problem." WHO.

  2. Britton, Annie, and Steven Bell. "Alcohol Consumption and Health Outcomes: Evidence from the UK." University College London, 2023.

  3. Singh-Manoux, Archana, et al. "Timing of Onset of Cognitive Decline: Results from Whitehall II Prospective Cohort Study." British Medical Journal, 2012.

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