13 August 2003

Your body - the 20s

It’s party time. And who can blame you? You have disposable income, your own transport and the ability to get by on miniscule amounts of sleep. You’re healthy too. For the moment, anyway.


It’s party time. And who can blame you? You have disposable income, your own transport and the ability to get by on miniscule amounts of sleep. You’re healthy too. Your skin has shrugged off the acne of your teens and you’re able to abuse your body to no ill-effects. If you were active in high school, your puppy fat has gone and you have your own place, somewhere to lay your hat and a few friends, as they say.

Like many of your peers you might often subsist on fast foods and neon blue energy drinks. Perhaps you’ve also maintained the tobacco habit you developed while at university, not to mention a penchant for alcopop and shooters. You’ve taken ecstasy a couple of times. The world is packed with taut, willing women and you have the stamina of a sexual athlete.

You might be driving your body so hard that you’re missing some knocking noises. Here are a few things you should be doing now:

  • Give your liver a breather: by all means quaff beer with your mates, but alternate with non-alcoholic cocktails or straight water;
  • Count to five: stock up on plump, fresh fruit and vegetables each Sunday morning and munch your way through them in the week;
  • Have a night in: you probably need at least six hours of sleep each night – perhaps as many as eight. Be selfish. The guys can do without your company for a while. You’ll be sharper mentally and physically, and you’ll be less likely to get sick when everyone else goes down with flu.
  • Get into an exercise routine: get yourself off to the gym and ask the burly guy with the flat-top haircut to work out a plan for you. There’s a good reason to start now: it takes time and effort for your body to build muscle, but less to maintain it. So build now, maintain later;
  • Ease your knees: it’s been established that many guys who sustain knee injuries in their 20s develop arthritis later in life. One way to help prevent this is to do regular hamstring stretches. That’s because tight hamstrings compound the beating your knees take during running and other sports;
  • Many blokes regard their 20s as their cowboys-don’t-cry decade: crunching, bruising club rugby followed by drinking draught beer all night. The problem with this lifestyle is that it depletes your body of the B vitamins it needs to turn food into energy. Caffeine and nicotine deplete your body of vitamin C, which you need to stave off infections. So get yourself a good multivitamin and take it each day.

Just remember the things you do in your twenties could have far-reaching consequences, especially things such as car or motorcycle accidents. In between running around, don't forget to treat your body well – it has to sustain you for a good few decades to come.



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