A General Health Primer for Men

Group of men participating in outdoor fitness activities

As men, our health is an intricate blend of body, mind, and environment. Understanding the nuances involved can make a world of difference in our wellness journey. Consider these elements not separate factors, but an intricate web of support and interdependence that can weigh on, or support other areas of our health.

The Vital Components of Men’s Health

1. Sunlight & Electromagnetism

Man standing outdoors enjoying the morning sunlight
Man enjoying the sunlight in the morning

Exposure to sunlight impacts our circadian rhythm, and our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle[^3]. Regular exposure to morning sunlight helps stimulate the production of hormones like cortisol, which wake us up[12].

In the holistic framework of health, light plays a pivotal role, extending beyond mere visibility. Sunlight, particularly morning sunlight, is an essential bio-signal. It regulates our circadian rhythm, guiding our bodies through the cycles of sleep and wakefulness[3]. It’s a natural stimulus for cortisol production, a hormone that primes us for daily activities. As we move with the sun’s course, we synchronize with the Earth’s rhythms, leading to optimal health and functioning.

Conversely, artificial light, especially blue light from electronic devices, disrupt our natural sleep-wake cycle. Prolonged exposure, especially during evening hours, interferes with melatonin production, the hormone responsible for sleep induction, thus affecting sleep quality and overall health[3]. Taking artificial melatonin as a supplement can also interrupt the body’s natural melatonin production cycle.

By harnessing the power of sunlight and moderating our exposure to artificial light, we can align ourselves with our inherent biological rhythm, paving the way for improved health and wellness[21][22].

2. Sleep 

Quality sleep is a pillar of men’s health[4]. It’s the time our body repairs and regenerates, and essential immune system functions occur. Ensure your sleeping environment is dark, quiet, and cool, and maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

Quality sleep isn’t just a luxury; it’s a cornerstone of men’s health, anchoring our physical and mental well-being[4]. During these restful hours, our body engages in a myriad of restorative processes — cells regenerate, the immune system fortifies itself, and the mind consolidates memories and learning. However, achieving high-quality sleep requires some diligence. Ensuring your sleep environment is conducive to rest is essential: it should be dark to optimize melatonin production, quiet to prevent disruptions, and cool for comfort. Moreover, establishing a consistent sleep schedule, by going to bed and waking up at similar times each day, encourages your internal body clock to operate smoothly, leading to better sleep quality and overall health[23].

3. Water

Man drinking a glass of filtered water
Man drinking a glass of water

Hydration is key to overall health[5]. Aim for at least 2 liters of clean, filtered water daily, adjusting according to activity levels and climate.

Hydration is an underappreciated yet vital element of overall health. Every cell, tissue, and organ in our body relies on water to function effectively. It not only aids in the digestion and absorption of nutrients but also plays a pivotal role in maintaining body temperature, lubricating joints, and facilitating the removal of waste products. To support these critical processes, it’s recommended to consume at least 2 liters of clean, filtered water daily. Deuterium-depleted water is the best, if accessible. This intake should be adjusted according to your individual needs, which may fluctuate based on factors such as physical activity, overall health, and climate. Consuming an adequate amount of water throughout the day is particularly crucial prior to intense workouts or in hot, humid weather when the body loses more water through sweat[24].

4. Social Interaction 

Human beings thrive on social interactions[6]. Engage regularly with friends and loved ones and be present during these interactions. 

As humans, we have an intrinsic need for social interaction, a trait that has been ingrained in our DNA since our ancestral times. Sociobiologists like Robin Dunbar suggest that the human brain has evolved to accommodate a finite social circle, often referred to as “Dunbar’s number”, which postulates a cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships[25]. Rooted in our tribal ancestors, this concept highlights our instinctual drive for community and belonging.

A tribal community cooperating as a family unit
A strong tribal community

Modern society, with its pressures and fast-paced life, has ironically led to a sense of disconnection for many. The advent of technology, while connecting us on a global scale, often leaves us feeling detached on a personal level. This detachment can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, undermining our emotional health and well-being.

Hence, it is vital to consciously create and maintain meaningful relationships in our lives. Engage regularly with friends, family, and loved ones. More importantly, be truly present during these interactions. It’s not just about quantity but quality. Savor these connections, as they are essential to our well-being and a deep-seated part of our human nature.

5. Mindfulness and Zen 

Being fully present in the moment can reduce stress and improve our emotional health[7]. Practicing mindfulness encourages clarity, focus, and conscious living.

Mindfulness offers a powerful tool for enhancing our emotional health[7]. It encourages us to shift our focus from the past’s regrets or the future’s anxieties to the immediate now. By tuning into our senses, emotions, and thoughts, we can navigate our lives with more clarity, focus, and serenity.

Mindfulness creates a space for us to process our experiences consciously rather than reactively. It fosters a non-judgmental awareness, promoting acceptance of our inner experiences and reducing stress levels. As we cultivate this practice, we can foster deeper connections with ourselves and the world around us, leading to a healthier emotional state and overall improved well-being.

6. Movement

Man doing push-ups in a park
Man exercising in a park

Regular, balanced exercise aligns with overall wellness[8]. Most men should prioritize everyday movement with a shifting focus every day on a 3-day repeating cycle: full-body resistance training, cardio-respiratory focus, and active recovery.

Movement is a critical component of a holistic approach to overall health. While we often associate exercise with gym workouts, it’s essential to prioritize everyday movements, integrating them seamlessly into our daily lives, not spending too much time sitting, walking when we can, standing, standing on one foot, and finding ways to move our bodies as much as possible during daylight hours. Movement has so much more to do with health than simply strength, power, and muscle. Lymph requires movement to flow, and our bodies manifest emotion physically. Stress, anxiety, and frustration can be worked out in part by moving, even more effectively if we are aware of how our bodies physically react to our emotions.

If you’re not an athlete training in a specified way, or facing some type of limitations or restrictions that prevent this, consider implementing a 3-day rotating cycle to ensure balance and variety in your routine. Day one could focus on engaging in full-body resistance training, incorporating activities like weightlifting or bodyweight exercises to build strength and flexibility and implement the 6 fundamental movements. On the second day, do cardio-respiratory exercises like brisk walking, jogging, or cycling, to promote heart health and stamina. Day three should be reserved for active recovery, a gentle form of exercise like stretching or yoga to aid in muscle recovery and maintain mobility.

A man in the park stretching for flexibility and mobility
A man stretching for mobility

This alternating approach prevents workout monotony, reduces the risk of injuries, and promotes different aspects of fitness, leading to comprehensive health benefits. Ultimately, find a consistent routine that works for you, minimize full days of inactivity, and avoid making the common mistake of overemphasizing strength, hypertrophy, and aesthetics over cardio, mobility, safety, and longevity.

7. Nutrition 

A diet rich in whole foods, natural proteins, fruits, vegetables, and fats provides the building blocks for cellular function and overall health[16]. Minimizing processed foods and sugars is a key step[9].

Nutrition forms the cornerstone of our overall health. Consuming a diet rich in whole foods and avoiding processed foods is the best general approach. If it comes in a package, it is probably not as good as real food, and much more likely to be harmful. Natural proteins from sources like lean meat, fish, and legumes, along with a colorful array of fruits and vegetables, offer a wealth of essential nutrients that support cellular function and overall well-being. Fats from foods like fish, flax, coconut, avocados, nuts, and olive oil contribute to satiety, brain health, and heart health. Consider that most foods and nutrients aren’t “good” or “bad” and that this type of black-and-white thinking is likely to be an incorrect generalization. Nutrition is more about getting good amounts of these things at optimal times, and too much or too little is almost always detrimental to our health. So go for moderation and variety, not a rigid restriction of certain whole, real foods. A paleo approach and intermittent fasting are also generally advised.

The flip side of the coin is as important: minimizing the intake of processed foods and sugars[9]. These foods are often laden with preservatives, concentrated seed oils, trans fats that wreak havoc, and added sugars, contributing to inflammation and various health issues. Making mindful food choices that prioritize natural, nutrient-dense options can pave the way for optimal health.

8. Cold Exposure

Man immersing himself in cold water for therapy
Man immersing in cold water

Cold exposure therapies like ice baths and cold showers can significantly enhance our physical and mental health[10]

These methods operate under the principle of ‘hormetic stress’, a beneficial type of stress that stimulates our body’s natural defense and healing systems. When we expose our bodies to cold temperatures, we effectively “shock” our system into action. This acute stress response leads to increased circulation, metabolic rate enhancement, and optimization of hormone production. Moreover, these practices are also associated with improved sleep quality and mental clarity, adding a substantial boost to our overall wellness.

These are great for post-workout, but even more so as an addition to morning routines, as they provide a lasting, stable flow of dopamine and motivation. It also follows the principle of Mark Twain’s wisdom, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” If we prime our systems to face adversity from the outset of a period of activity, we will more readily handle problems as they arise.

9. Grounding 

Walking barefoot outdoors, known as grounding or earthing, can enhance your wellness by connecting you with the Earth’s electromagnetic field[11]. 

The practice of walking barefoot outdoors often referred to as ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing,’ may seem unconventional, but growing evidence supports its potential wellness benefits, rooted in our biological connection to the Earth’s electromagnetic field. According to renowned neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman, direct contact with the Earth’s surface can facilitate a transfer of negatively charged electrons into our bodies, which may help neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation. Furthermore, Dr. Jack Kruse, a leading figure in quantum health, emphasizes that this earth-human connection can play a role in circadian rhythm regulation and stress reduction, acting similarly to electromagnetic communication signals. As our modern lifestyle often disconnects us from natural environments, integrating grounding practices can serve as a potent reminder of our intrinsic connection with nature and its potential healing power.

Male-Specific Health & Hormone Regulation 

Men’s health, in many ways, hinges upon the intricate interplay of hormones, including (but not limited to) testosterone, which plays a pivotal role in the development of male growth and masculine characteristics[12][13]. Balancing testosterone is a delicate task, influenced by numerous lifestyle factors. Perhaps more importantly, leptin plays a huge role. Known as the “master hormone,” leptin regulates energy balance in the body and impacts various physiological processes. Managing stress, maintaining optimal sun exposure, ensuring quality sleep, and following a nutrient-dense diet can significantly contribute to balanced leptin levels, thereby influencing metabolism, brain function, muscle mass, and overall vitality. Balancing testosterone and leptin is a delicate task, influenced by numerous lifestyle factors, including stress management[14].

A man sitting in meditation in a lush field
Man meditating in a field

Chronic stress can imbalance your hormones, potentially leading to a decrease in testosterone levels. Engaging in practices such as mindfulness, grounding, and regular physical activity can significantly aid in the management of stress levels, thereby promoting more balanced hormonal health. In addition, getting sufficient sun exposure and quality sleep are instrumental in supporting healthy testosterone levels. Understanding and managing this delicate hormonal balance can be a cornerstone in the journey toward holistic health and wellness for men.

Healthy Masculinity & Character Building 

Modern masculinity is a dynamic concept that continues to evolve, moving away from traditional stereotypes towards a more authentic expression of self that embraces emotional expression, empathy, respect, and equality[^17]. This shift in understanding is not only fundamental to individual growth but also contributes to societal change. Developing this sense of healthy masculinity involves introspection, open dialogues, and an ongoing commitment to personal growth. It’s a personal journey of exploration and transformation, one that requires courage, vulnerability, and a genuine desire to understand oneself and others better. Supportive communities like The Verdant Path Men’s Group[2] can play a crucial role in this exploration, providing a safe, non-judgmental space for men to share their experiences, learn from each other, and collaboratively cultivate characters that respect both self and others. These environments foster growth and offer a platform for men to redefine masculinity in their unique terms, supporting their journey towards a more balanced, healthy version of manhood.

Man writing thoughts in a journal
Man writing in a journal

Growth Mindset 

The concept of a growth mindset, as popularized by psychologist Carol Dweck[15], is a transformative approach to learning and life’s challenges[18]. Rather than viewing difficulties as obstacles or signs of personal incapacity, a growth mindset encourages us to see these situations as opportunities for growth, learning, and self-improvement. It’s a perspective that embraces challenges and perceives effort as a necessary path to mastery. With this mindset, failure is not a setback, but a stepping stone for learning and developing new strategies. By cultivating a growth mindset, we foster resilience, adaptability, and a lifelong love for learning, all of which are essential for personal development and success in all areas of life. 

Embrace Your Unique Journey 

Remember, health is a continuous journey and an ever-evolving process of learning, growing, and adapting[20]. Cultivate patience, persistence, and curiosity in your daily wellness practice. 

Certainly, this provides a helpful framework to optimize your health and wellness as a man. Remember that your path is unique—navigate it with courage, mindfulness, and compassion. Carry the fire. Light the way.

A man carrying a torch in the forest
Man carrying the fire


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References // Links

[1] “Leptin and the regulation of body weight in mammals.” [Nature](https://www.nature.com/articles/28432).

[2] The Verdant Path Men’s Group. [Link](The Verdant Path | Meetup)

[3] “Circadian Rhythms in Diet-Induced Obesity.” [The Journal of Biological Chemistry](https://www.jbc.org/article/S0021-9258(20)33274-2/fulltext).

[4] “Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency.” [National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute](What Are Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency?).

[5] “Water, Hydration and Health.” [Nutrition Reviews](Water, hydration, and health).

[6] “Social relationships and health: a flashpoint for health policy.” [Journal of Health and Social Behavior](https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0022146510383501).

[7] “The practice of mindfulness and meditation.” [Mayo Clinic](Can mindfulness exercises help me?).

[8] “Physical Activity and Health.” [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention](Benefits of Physical Activity).

[9] “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” [Dr. Robert Lustig’s talk at UCTV](VIDEO: Sugar: The Bitter Truth).

[10] “Cold Exposure: Benefits and Safety Tips.” [Healthline](https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-exposure).

[11] “Grounding the Human Body: The Healing Benefits of Earthing.” [NCBI](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/).

[12] “Vitamin D and Testosterone in Healthy Men: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” [Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism](https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/96/7/E1210/2834461).

[13] “Effects of sleep deprivation on testosterone levels in healthy men.” [JAMA](Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men).

[14] “Chronic stress puts your health at risk.” [Mayo Clinic](Chronic stress puts your health at risk).

[15] “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” [Carol S. Dweck] https://bookshop.org/p/books/mindset-the-new-psychology-of-success-carol-s-dweck/7841782: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: 9780345472328: Dweck, Carol S. S.: Books).

[16] “The gut microbiota at the intersection of diet and human health.” [Science](https://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6416/776).

[17] “Healthy Masculinity.” [MenEngage](http://menengage.org/resources/healthy-masculinity/).

[18] “In Brief: Growth Mindset Gains Ground.” [Harvard Graduate School of Education](Harvard Graduate School of Education).

[19] “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.” [Robert M. Sapolsky](Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Third Edition: Sapolsky, Robert M.: 9780805073690: https://bookshop.org/p/books/why-zebras-don-t-get-ulcers-robert-m-sapolsky/16016440 : Books).

[20] “Know The Cause.” [Doug Kaufmann](Home).

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