While your bulbocavernosus isn’t the kind of muscle you can work in the gym (unless you want to be thrown out), it’s worth training, espe- cially if you suffer from premature ejaculation. “When this muscle con- tracts, nerves send a signal up your spinal cord to suppress arousal and keep you going longer,” says Dr Darius Paduch, an associate pro- fessor of urology at Cornell University. To find the bulbocavernosus, place your fingers behind your scrotum and try to flex the muscle there. (If you feel your stomach contract, you’re squeezing the wrong muscle.) Now move your hand to your stomach and, while keeping your abs relaxed, begin masturbating. When you’re about to reach orgasm, flex your bulbocavernosus. Once you get the hang of it, flex during sex. “This won’t bring you from two minutes to 20 minutes, but you can definitely progress up to five or even seven minutes,” says Paduch.
Practice makes perfect
Ejaculations don’t just feel good – they’re good for you. “I’ve seen men lose up to five centimetres off their erections because they didn’t masturbate and have enough sex,” Paduch says. “Your penis is basically a big muscle – it will atrophy if you don’t use it.” His prescription: mas- turbate as often as you’d like to be having sex. “What really matters is having an adequate outlet. Your penis doesn’t care whether that outlet is sex or masturbation.”
PERCENTAGE OF MEN WHO SUFFER FROM PREMATURE EJACULATION: 18
LENGTH OF TIME A MAN WITH PREMATURE EJACULATION LASTS: 50 TO 60 SECONDS
TIME THE AVERAGE GUY LASTS: 1-5 MINUTES
2 Protect Against Heart Disease
Tame that temper
If you frequently find yourself flipping the finger at other drivers or yelling at the TV when your team tanks, repeat this mantra: lose my cool, lose my life. According to a recent study review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, angry outbursts are more likely to cause heart disease in men than in women. Shelton Kartun, founder of the Anger and Stress Management Centre South Africa, explains that both anger and stress cause the body to produce adrenaline. Apart from raising blood pressure, the surge in adrenaline can also cause the blood to clot more readily, increasing the risks of heart attacks. “The coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart can constrict and reduce blood flow to the heart mus- cle. A man who repeatedly has angry outbursts or is ‘excitable’ will be constantly producing adrenaline and cortisol, thereby raising their blood pressure all the time. Over time this will contribute to coro- nary heart disease and puts him at risk of heart attack.”
Lower your heart volume
Listen up: is your work environment annoyingly noisy? In a 2010 study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, people who were chronically exposed to loud noises while on the job were twice as likely to have heart disease as those who toiled in blissful silence. “Noise exposure may trigger the release of stress hormones, which can constrict coronary arteries and reduce blood supply to your heart,” says study author Dr Wenqi Gan. So interrupt the aural assault by taking periodic “quiet” breaks of 10 to 15 minutes: wear noise-cancelling headphones or go for a stroll to a less populated part of the building. Also consider turning off the ringer on your phone and muting your computer to eliminate the occasional shrill bursts of noise.
3 Prevent Skin Cancer
Respect your enemy
A false sense of confidence can be fatal: people who use high-SPF sunscreens tend
to go out in the sun when it’s stronger and stay there longer, putting themselves at a greater risk of melanoma than those who slather on a low-SPF formula, according to recent French research. “Sunscreens don’t provide complete blan- ket protection. It’s best to use additional measures as well as consuming antioxidants that serve to further protect the skin against UV damage,” says Dr Marc Roscher, director of dermatological surgery at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Stick with a photo-stabilised SPF30 sunscreen, such as Bioderma Photoderm (R150 Dis-Chem), and set a reminder to reapply every two hours. Also, throw your beach clothes in the tumble-dryer before you head out – the laundering will tighten the weave of the fabric, providing extra protec- tion, say Henry Ford Hospital researchers.
Uncover a mole
Tell your wife or girlfriend you need to examine every inch of her body – doctor’s orders! Jump in the shower together and lather up while looking her over for asymmetrical moles of varied colour, usually bigger than six millimetres with irreg- ular borders, according to Skin- centre.co.za, where Roscher is the medical director. Monthly self-examination may catch melanoma earlier, when it’s easier to cure, he says. Tell her this: in a 2008 Northwest- ern University study, couples who were the most satisfied gave skin exams that were three times more effective than discontented duos.
4 Fight Diabetes
ODDS THAT THE AVERAGE GUY WILL DEVELOP DIABETES EVEN IF HE’S DISEASE-FREE AT AGE 40: 1 IN 3
INCREASE IN A MAN’S RISK OF DIABETES IF HE BOOSTS HIS DAILY TV-WATCHING TIME FROM LESS THAN AN HOUR TO 4 OR MORE HOURS: TWOFOLD
Go a little nuts
Eating almonds can help ward off insulin resistance (a red flag for diabetes), according to a 2010 study in the Journal of american College of nutri- tion. When people with pre- diabetes ate about two hand- fuls of almonds each day for 16 weeks, they experienced a 23% drop in fasting insulin levels, while those who said no to nuts saw a 19% increase. The credit goes to oleic acid, a fat that triggers the release of GLP-1, a peptide that can improve insulin sensitivity.
Look forward to commercials
Some health threats can be beaten using brute strength: a recent UCLA study found that lean people with low mus- cle mass are 67% more likely to be insulin resistant than their more buff counterparts. Having a sculpted physique may help your body use insu- lin to regulate blood sugar, the researchers say. Our advice: cut your TV time to an hour a day and, during commercials, see how many sets of body-weight squats, lunges or push- ups you can crank out.
5 Achieve Optimum Fitness
Show her what she’s missing
Before working out, flip through photos of a former flame who broke your heart. A 2010 study in the Journal of neurophysiology found that viewing images of a woman who spurned you activates the areas of your brain that control motivation and reward. “Rejection – that sense of loss – stimulates desire,” says certified strength and conditioning expert Christopher Proulx. “And this desire increases your level of adrenaline – the same chemical response that occurs in preparation for physical activity.” This may enhance your focus and overall performance.
Lift with the underdog
Believe it or not, seeing your buddy’s scrawny biceps may be more motivating than seeing some other guy’s anaconda arms coiled around a barbell. A 2010 study in the Journal of experimental social Psychology found that people work about 30% harder when they’re competing against those they see as easily beatable. “Men produce higher levels of testosterone when they’re winning than when they’re losing,” says Proulx. Also a factor: the chance that your less fit friend will surpass you. “Which is more embarrassing,” Proulx asks, “being beaten by someone who’s bigger than you, or someone who’s weaker?”
6 Beat Depression
Watch your diagnosis
Why are so many more men being medicated for depression than actually suffer from it? Part of the disparity is due to the fact that SSRIs (the most commonly pre- scribed antidepressants) help treat other problems, including premature ejaculation and migraines. But that still doesn’t account for all the scripts being written, says Dr Michael Addis. “There’s a lack of knowledge about what these drugs are appropriate for – and many illnesses have symptoms that mimic depression, includ- ing thyroid disorders and celiac disease,” he says. Compounding the problem is the fact that a third of primary-care docs say they won’t ask about mental health at all, and half say assessing psychological issues causes them to lose time and money, reports a new study by University of Cincinnati researchers. That disinterest may prompt a lot of knee-jerk prescription writing. “Don’t let them jump to a quick diagnosis,” Addis says. And if you have any doubts about whether your blues are truly depression-related or instead a symptom of something else, seek a second opinion – from a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Facebook may actually be the antisocial network. British scientists recently found that Internet addiction is linked to a greater risk of depression and is often characterised by overuse of social media sites. “People make positive, sound-byte- calibre posts on Facebook – ‘the changing leaves are beautiful’, ‘I just heard an awe- some song’ and so on,” says Addis. “The discrepancy between what you’re feeling and what you think everyone else is feel- ing can make depression worse. You can develop a pretty stilted view of the world.” Consider “hiding” your most Pollyannaish pals, and then strive for perspective by bumping up your real-time interactions. “Facebook needs to be supplemented by face time and phone conversations, so the unscripted truth can unfold more com- pletely,” Addis says.
Guess what? Settling for average health is a dumb move.
That’s because in the past half century, “average” health has come to mean overweight, sedentary and significantly more vulnerable to illness than men were a generation or two ago.
Fortunately, this isn’t the average men’s magazine. We’ve scoured the latest research and talked to top docs to bring you two dozen strategies that can help you achieve chart-topping vitals.
Follow our advice, and you’ll re-engineer your body for optimal performance – in the bedroom, at the gym and, most important, on the exam table.
So go ahead, dust off your tux. In a few months, you’ll be your own best man.