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Since March, I’ve been waking up earlier.

Before that time, I’d typically go to bed at 11 p.m. and naturally wake up between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m.

Then, for some reason, regardless of what time I went to bed, I started spontaneously waking up between 5:30 and 6 a.m. Consequently, I moved my bedtime earlier, too.

I’m not sure why the shift happened; maybe it’s my circadian rhythm changing in middle age.

When I first started waking up early, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I mostly read and took care of admin work before the rest of the family woke up.

But then at the start of May, I decided to take a two-mile walk right after I woke up at the buttcrack of dawn. Why? I don’t know. It was something to do mostly. Also, I knew I needed to walk more. I’ve got a pretty dang sedentary job as a blogger/podcaster. I’m on my butt reading, writing, and answering emails for hours every day.

I’ve had plenty of guests on the podcast who talked about the research on just how bad being sedentary is for your health — even if you make time for regular, strenuous exercise every day like I have for over 15 years. An hour of dedicated exercise each day can’t make up for sitting on your butt for the rest of your waking hours.

So, I figured I’d use my newfound time in the morning to move more and get my steps in.

I had zero expectations or specific health goals when I started the daily walking habit.

But I could soon tell from both personal observation and the fitness trackers I use (the Oura ring and the Apple Watch) that it was creating some positive changes in my health.

Here’s what happened after doing a month of my morning walk routine:

My daily steps increased.My daughter Scout likes to check my Apple Watch stats each night when I tuck her in. >Back in March, she looked at my daily steps and saw that they were consistently in the 4k to 5k range. “Dad, you really don’t move much during the day,” she’d observe. “You’re kind of a lump.

Convicted!

Ever since I’ve started walking every morning, I usually get 12k to 15k steps a day. Much better. The boost hasn’t come from my morning walk alone; that habit has also had the unintended benefit of getting me moving more in general. I’ll intermittently take 10-minute walking breaks during the day just because I like how it feels to walk. I also get the Scout vote of approval each night when she looks at my watch.

Winning!

My resting heart rate dropped.Resting heart rate has been shown to be a good indicator of overall fitness and cardiovascular health. A lower resting heart rate means your heart is working more efficiently. Higher resting heart rates have been associated with cardiovascular disease.

A normal resting heart rate for adults is between 60 and 100. Well-trained athletes have a resting heart rate closer to 40.

Before I started walking in the morning, my resting heart rate was usually between 60 and 55. Not terrible.

But after a month of daily walking, my resting heart rate started hovering around 45 — closer to elite athlete level. And I got there just by leisurely walking for 35 minutes every morning.

My heart rate variability increased.Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variation in time intervals between consecutive heartbeats, reflecting the autonomic nervous system’s regulation of the heart. You actually want a lot of variation in your heart rate. High HRV indicates a healthy balance between the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) systems. Individuals with a high HRV are less stressed and more resilient physically and emotionally. You’re able to perform better physically and mentally when your HRV is high.

Low HRV indicates that your body is under stress due to factors like fatigue, dehydration, overwork, or illness.

Physical exercise, like walking, lowers your HRV by enhancing the parasympathetic (rest and digest) activity of your nervous system. Physical activity also helps your body manage overall stress levels and improves blood flow, two factors that contribute to a lower HRV as well.

Before I started walking every morning, my HRV hovered between 36 ms and 40 ms — not great. Now it’s hovering between 45 and 55 ms. An improvement!

My V02 max improved. VO2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake, is the maximum rate at which your body can consume oxygen during intense exercise. It’s a key indicator of cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. Higher VO2 max values indicate a greater ability of the heart, lungs, and muscles to utilize oxygen, reflecting better overall fitness and endurance levels.

You can improve V02 Max through consistent HIIT or steady-state cardio. The only cardio I’ve been doing this past month is walking every morning.

According to my Apple Watch, at the start of May, my estimated V02 max (emphasis on estimated; I’d need to take an actual V02 max test to get an accurate measurement) was 38.5. Today it’s 42. It’s only a small change, and there’s still a lot of room for improvement, but taking a stroll each morning seems to have helped!

I sleep better at night. While I’m still waking up earlier than I used to, my sleep overallhas improved since starting the morning walk habit.

According to my Oura ring, I fall asleep faster and have more deep sleep and REM sleep. During deep sleep, your body releases hormones to help you grow and recover, and your brain flushes out toxins. REM sleep is when we dream, and as we’ve discussed on the podcast, our brain uses dreams to consolidate memories and make sense of all the stuff we experience during waking time.

I reckon the morning walk has improved my sleep in two ways. First, walking is a great way to build up your sleep pressure. Physical activity helps create adenosine in your brain, which makes you sleepy. The more adenosine you’ve built up during the day, the sleepier you feel at bedtime. When it’s 10 p.m., I’m ready to hit the hay, and as soon as my head hits the pillow, I’m out.

The early morning walks have also likely helped my sleep thanks to the exposure it provides to early morning sunlight.Exposure to sunlight helps regulate our circadian rhythm. Research suggests exposing yourself to sunlight first thing in the morning can get your circadian rhythm in a good groove so that you’re ready to go to sleep when you go to bed and experience better quality sleep when you are sleeping.

I’m in a better mood. We’ve talked about how physical activity is the antidote to both anxiety and depression. It’s all thanks to the endorphins that are released when you move your body.

I’ve noticed an improvement in my mood. I just feel better when I get my morning walks in.

I’ve lost some weight. From January to March, I did a short bulk to go from 185 to 200 pounds. In April, I started cutting calories to get my summer shred on. The goal was to get back down to 187 pounds. Why 187? I feel and look good at that weight. In April, I was able to lower my weight by five pounds by just reducing calories each week. In May, I continued to lower my calories slightly each week, but added in my daily walks. I was able to drop the remaining 10 pounds in just four weeks, and I never felt starved because my calories didn’t get crazy low. Combining calorie restriction with increased energy expenditure from walking turbocharged my weight loss.

ower heart rate, increased HRV, improved V02 max, deeper sleep, better mood, and reduced body weight.

Solvitur ambulando. It is solved by walking. Damn straight.

I can’t recommend taking a daily walk enough. Two miles takes me about 35 minutes. With just 35 minutes a day, I was able to make some pretty significant improvements in my health in just a month. A small change in your daily routine will net you an outsized number of benefits.

If you haven’t started a regular exercise routine because you feel like you don’t have the time or because you think you have to do a really hard, strenuous workout to get any benefit from exercise, try going for a two-mile walk each day.

Don’t have time or aren’t ready for two miles? Then just do a mile. Something is always better than nothing.

Think you’ll be bored? Listen to a podcast (might I suggest AoM’s?). Improve your mind as you gently but significantly improve your body.

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By: Brett & Kate McKay
Title: I Started Taking a Walk Every Morning. Here’s What Happened to My Health
Sourced From: www.artofmanliness.com/health-fitness/fitness/health-benefits-of-walking/
Published Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2024 16:00:06 +0000

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Mens Health

Homecoming: An Evolutionary Approach for Healing Depression and Preventing Suicide

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Captura de pantalla 2024 07 13 a las 17.40.10 1
Photo by: Andreea Popa / Unsplash.com

Part 1

Depression and suicide have been my companions as far back as I can remember. I was five years old when my mid-life father took an overdose of sleeping pills. Though he didn’t die our lives were never the same. I grew up wondering what happened to my father, when it would happen to me, and what I could do to prevent it from happening to other families.

In an article, “Being Bipolar: Living and Loving in a World of Fire and Ice,” I described my own mental health challenges and healing journey. In my book, The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression, I shared my research and clinical experience that convinced me that men and women are different in ways they deal with depression and aggression in their lives and in other ways as well.

Depression and suicide are not just problems for men, but there is something about being male that increases our risk of dying by suicide. According to recent statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, the suicide rate among males is, on average, 4 times higher (22.8 per 100,000) than among females (5.7 per 100,000) and at every age the rate is higher among males than females:

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Even during our youth where suicide rates are relatively low, males are still more likely to die by suicide than are females. It is also clear to me as my wife and I move into our 80s, we face many challenges as we age, but it is older males who more often end their lives by suicide with rates 8 to 17 times higher than for females.

In my book, My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound, I describe my father’s slide into depression and the despair that increased when he couldn’t find work. As a writer, he wrote regular entries in his journals. I still feel the pain as I re-read them and feel his increasing shame when he couldn’t support his family:

            July 3rd:

“Oh, Christ, if I can only give my son a decent education—a college decree with a love for books, a love for people, good, solid knowledge. No guidance was given to me. I slogged and slobbered and blundered through two-thirds of my life.”

            July 24th:

“Edie dear, Johnny dear, I love you so much, but how do I get the bread to support you? The seed of despair is part of my heritage. It lies sterile for months and then it gnaws until its bitter fruit chokes my throat and swells in me like a large goiter blacking out room for hopes, dreams, joy, and life itself.”

            August 8th:

“Sunday morning, my humanness has fled, my sense of comedy has gone down the drain. I’m tired, hopelessly tired, surrounded by an immense brick wall, a blood-spattered brick world, splattered with my blood, with the blood of my head where I senselessly banged to find an opening, to find one loose brick, so I could feel the cool breeze and could stick out my hand and pluck a handful of wheat, but this brick wall is impregnable, not an ounce of mortar loosens, not a brick gives.”

            September 8th:

“Your flesh crawls, your scalp wrinkles when you look around and see good writers, established writers, writers with credits a block long, unable to sell, unable to find work, Yes, it’s enough to make anyone, blanch, turn pale and sicken.”

            October 24th:

“Faster, faster, faster, I walk. I plug away looking for work, anything to support my family. I try, try, try, try, try. I always try and never stop.”

            November 12th:

“A hundred failures, an endless number of failures, until now, my confidence, my hope, my belief in myself, has run completely out. Middle aged, I stand and gaze ahead, numb, confused, and desperately worried. All around me I see the young in spirit, the young in heart, with ten times my confidence, twice my youth, ten times my fervor, twice my education. I see them all, a whole army of them, battering at the same doors I’m battering, trying in the same field I’m trying. Yes, on a Sunday morning in November, my hope and my life stream are both running desperately low, so low, so stagnant, that I hold my breath in fear, believing that the dark, blank curtain is about to descend.”

Four days later, he took an overdose of sleeping pills and spent seven years in a mental hospital receiving “treatment” until the day he escaped. The book has a happy ending, but it took a long time to get there.

            I share what I have learned over the years in an on-line course, “Healing the Family Father Wound.”  I recently read a chapter in the book, The Palgrave Handbook of Male Psychology and Mental Health edited by J.A. Barry, et al., by Martin Seager, titled “From Stereotypes to Archetypes: An Evolutionary Perspective on Male Help-Seeking and Suicide,” that adds some important pieces to the puzzle and added to my understanding of male depression and suicide and how we can more effectively help men and their families.

An Evolutionary Understanding of Male Psychology

            “In our current age it is unfashionable to think of human gender as connected with our biology and evolution,”

says Dr. Seager.

“Gender is currently thought of primarily as a social construct, a theory that carries assumptions that gender can be fluid, molded by education or even chosen as a part of a lifestyle. Gender is increasingly seen as a collection of disposable social stereotypes, separate from and unrelated to biological sex.”

            Dr. Seager goes on to say,

“This hypothesis is bad science and even worse philosophy…When held up against the anthropological and cross-cultural evidence, a social constructionist theory of gender cannot explain clearly observable and universal patterns of male and female behavior.”

            I agree with Dr. Seager and have long held that we cannot understand or help men, or women, without recognizing our biological roots in the animal kingdom. In my book, 12 Rules For Good Men, Rule #4 is “Embrace Your Billion Year History of Maleness.” I introduce the chapter with a quote from cultural historian Thomas Berry.

“The natural world is the largest sacred community to which we belong. To be alienated from this community is to become destitute in all that makes us human.”

            I also say in the book that all humans are also mammals and we cannot understand men without recognizing that fact. Dr. Seager agrees.

“Human beings are evolved mammals and they have never stopped being so,”

says Seager.

“Whatever social, cultural and political structures are placed upon us as humans, these cannot erase our mammalian heritage and indeed are constructed upon and shaped by that heritage, though not determined or defined by it.”

            Dr. Seager goes on to say,

“Globally, across all human tribes or societies and throughout all known history and pre-history, allowing for inevitable variation across a spectrum, there are universal patterns of male and female behavior in the human species.”

Based on the most massive study of human mating ever undertaken, encompassing more than 10,000 people of all ages from thirty-seven cultures worldwide, evolutionary psychologist Dr. David Buss found that there are two human natures, one male and one female. In his book, The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, Dr. David Buss explains the evolutionary roots of what men and women want and explains why their desires differ so radically.

            “Within human beings perhaps the most obvious universal patterns of sexual differences are: Female: (1) Beauty, attraction and glamour (Including body adornment) and (2) Bearing and nurturance of new-born infants and young children. Male: (1) Physical protection (strength) and (2) Risk-taking,”

says Dr. Seager.

            Dr. Seager goes on to say,

“In all human cultures throughout history and prehistory there is consistent and incontestable evidence of males taking high levels of risk to protect and provide for their family, tribe, and community or nation either collectively as bands of hunters and warriors or as individuals.”

Some view male risk-taking as foolhardy, immature, self-destructive, and harmful to women and children as well as men themselves. But both Dr. Seager and I recognize that protecting women and children and risk-taking behavior are archetypal, instinctual, positive, and evolutionarily important for survival strategies.

In the second part of this series, we will continue our exploration of ways we can improve our understanding of male depression and suicide and how we can be more effective in helping men and their families.

You can learn more about the work of Martin Seager at the Centre For Male Psychology.

We need more programs for men that are evolutionary-archetypally informed. You can learn more at MenAlive.com and MoonshotForMankind.org. If you like articles like these, I invite you to become a subscriber.

The post Homecoming: An Evolutionary Approach for Healing Depression and Preventing Suicide appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: Homecoming: An Evolutionary Approach for Healing Depression and Preventing Suicide
Sourced From: menalive.com/homecoming-an-evolutionary-approach-for-healing-depression-and-preventing-suicide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=homecoming-an-evolutionary-approach-for-healing-depression-and-preventing-suicide
Published Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2024 23:40:56 +0000

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Mens Health

My New Favorite Squat

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a man lifting weights in a gym

I’ve done the traditional barbell squat my whole life. It’s a great exercise for overall lower-body strength. I’ve also experimented with other squat variations: the front squat, the goblet squat, the belt squat.

This year I’ve been doing a squat that’s become my favorite ever: the Hatfield squat.

I love this exercise. I originally switched to it because long-standing problems with cranky shoulders and knee pain were making the traditional barbell squat uncomfortable. The Hatfield squat has made squatting fun and productive again after years of frustration trying to make the barbell squat work for me. What’s also great about the Hatfield Squat is that it’s an excellent movement for quad hypertrophy, which lines up nicely with my new fitness goal of getting more ripped. It’s been a game-changer in my training.

If you’ve had trouble with barbell squatting or are looking for a different squat variation to mix into your programming, here’s everything you need to know about the Hatfield squat.

What Is the Hatfield Squat and What Are Its Benefits?

The Hatfield squat, named after powerlifting legend Dr. Fred Hatfield, aka Dr. Squat, is a back squat variation that requires a safety squat bar, which is a type of barbell that looks sort of like an ox yoke.

When you do the Hatfield squat, you place the safety squat bar on your back. Then, instead of holding on to the safety squat bar with your hands, you rest your hands on an additional barbell or a set of handles that have been placed at navel level on the barbell rack. As you descend into the squat, you keep your hands on the support in front of you, using it to maintain your balance and an upright torso.

This increases the stability of the exercise, allowing the Hatfield squat to offer some unique benefits:

Great for quad hypertrophy. If you’re looking to grow legs as big as tree trunks, the Hatfield squat can be a helpful tool. Its increased stability allows you to overload your quads more than a traditional squat. Instead of focusing on keeping your balance during the squat, you can just focus on the movement, which means you can be a bit more aggressive in adding reps or weight.

Great for squatting around injuries. The most significant benefit that the Hatfield squat has given me is that it has allowed me to squat heavy again despite the niggling physical issues I’ve had on and off for years.

Because I have shoulder tendonitis due to bench pressing and struggle with shoulder flexibility (despite the amount of time I’ve worked on developing this capacity), the bar position on the traditional low-bar squat just exacerbated my shoulder pain. Because you use a safety bar with the Hatfield squat, you don’t have to use your hands to hold the bar on your back. It completely removes the stress on your shoulders.

The Hatfield squat has also allowed me to work around some pain I’ve had behind my knee since 2020. The pain only happens during the descent part of a traditional barbell squat. I still don’t know what the source of the pain is despite talking to an orthopedic surgeon and getting an MRI done. I reckon it’s some sort of overuse injury on a tendon back there. But at any rate, the increased stability of the Hatfield squat allows me to squat heavy and below parallel without any pain behind my knee.

People with lower back issues have also found the Hatfield squat helpful for squatting without exacerbating their injury.

Due to the Hatfield squat’s pain reduction ability, I’ve also been calling them “Midlife Man Squats.”

It is a great accessory lift for the barbell squat. You don’t have to replace the traditional barbell squat completely with the Hatfield squat. Instead, you can use the Hatfield squat as an accessory lift in your barbell programming. On deadlift day, you could do the Hatfield squat for 3 sets of 8-12 reps for hypertrophy and increased work capacity.

Or you could use the Hatfield squat for overload training to build strength and confidence in hoisting heavier weights, doing 3 sets of 3 reps with weight that is heavier than you typically lift on the traditional barbell squat.

Here’s a hypothetical barbell program that would incorporate the Hatfield squat:

Lower Body Day A

  • Squat 3 x 5 (squat is the main lower body lift)
  • Rack pulls 3 x 5 (rack pulls are the accessory lift for the deadlift)
  • Good mornings 3 x 10

Lower Body Day B

  • Deadlift 1 x 5 (deadlift is the main lower body lift)
  • Hatfield squat 3 x 8-12 (Hatfield squat is the accessory lift for the squat)
  • Lunges 3 x 12

How to Perform the Hatfield Squat

The Hatfield squat is pretty dang easy to perform. You just need to get the right set-up.

Equipment Needed:

  • Safety squat bar (SSB)
  • Barbell or handles

Place the handles or barbell on the squat rack at about belly height.

Get under the safety squat bar and unrack it.

a man standing in a gym performing hatfield squat

Keep your hands lightly on the handles or bar in front of you. You’re not using the handles/auxiliary barbell to assist in pulling yourself up. You’re just using them to maintain your stability throughout the lift. a man squatting in a gym

Squat with an upright torso. The Hatfield squat should be done with an upright torso. You don’t need to bend over like you do on a low-bar squat.

Lower yourself until slightly below parallel and then rise back up. Remember, just use the handles for stability. Do not use the handles to pull yourself up.

Like I said at the beginning, the Hatfield squat has been a game-changer for me. It’s allowed me to keep squatting without any pain. If you’ve struggled with incorporating the barbell squat into your workout due to pain, try the Hatfield squat. I think you’ll probably like it as much as I do.

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By: Brett & Kate McKay
Title: My New Favorite Squat
Sourced From: www.artofmanliness.com/health-fitness/fitness/how-to-hatfield-squat/
Published Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2024 14:16:11 +0000

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The Japanese 3X3 Interval Walking Workout

Japanese Interval Walking 3

Japanese Interval Walking 3 1

The overarching principle of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is that the harder you do an exercise, the more physiological benefits you accrue; thus, by incorporating intervals of higher intensity efforts in your workouts, you can get more fitness bang for your buck in less time. 

When we think about HIIT, we tend to think about going absolutely nuts on a fan bike or doing all-out sprints.

But as Dr. Martin Gibala explained on the AoM podcast, while high-intensity training rises above the level of the moderate, it doesn’t require a complete max out of your heart rate, nor is it limited to certain exercise modalities.

You can do interval training by pedaling like a madman on a bike, but you can also do it with a less strenuous approach. 

Enter Interval Walking Training (IWT), which originated in Japan.

This 3X3 walking workout is simple: you do 3 minutes of low-intensity walking (40% of peak aerobic capacity for walking — a little faster than a stroll), followed by 3 minutes of high-intensity walking (70%+ of peak aerobic capacity for walking). You repeat these interval sets at least 5 times, and do this 30-minute workout 4 times a week.

Your heart rate during the high-intensity intervals will vary according to your fitness level and age. One 68-year-old who participated in an IWT-based study had his heart rate go up to about 130 beats per minute during the fast intervals, so you’re moving at a good clip.

Even though IWT is highly accessible, studies that have been done on it show that it produces significant health benefits. People who did Interval Walking Training 4X a week for 3 months experienced significantly more improvement in their blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, leg strength, and aerobic capacity than those who did continuous, moderate-intensity walking. 

Hiroshi Nose, who developed Interval Walking Training, reports that among those who do IWT, “Physical fitness — maximal aerobic power and thigh muscle strength — increased by about 20 percent which is sure to make you feel about 10 years younger than before training, [and] symptoms of lifestyle-related diseases (hypertension, hyperglycemia, and obesity) decreased by about 20 percent.” IWT walkers enjoyed mental health benefits as well: depression scores dropped by half.

Walking in general is already one of the very best forms of exercise you can do, and IWT just helps you take its benefits up a notch. Hiroshi has used Interval Walking Training to get thousands of elderly Japanese citizens into shape, and it’s a great form of exercise if you’re in the older decades of life. But it’s also good if you’re just beginning your fitness journey and looking to get off the couch and start doing more physical activity. Even if you’re already a regular exerciser who’s in good shape, IWT is a nice way to mix up your usual neighborhood strolls while enhancing your health even further. 

For more HIIT protocols, from the accessible to the challenging, listen to this episode of the AoM podcast:

Help support independent publishing. Make a donation to The Art of Manliness! Thanks for the support!

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By: Brett & Kate McKay
Title: The Japanese 3X3 Interval Walking Workout
Sourced From: www.artofmanliness.com/health-fitness/fitness/the-japanese-3×3-interval-walking-workout/
Published Date: Tue, 09 Apr 2024 17:35:28 +0000

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