Updated 17 July 2015

Jean de Villiers' health advice for men

Springbok rugby player Jean de Villiers offers valuable advice on how South African men canlead a healthier lifestyle.

“As a professional rugby player it is very important for me to eat the right food and stay in shape,” says Jean de Villiers.

“Apart from the set meals compiled by our fitness trainer when we are on tour, I try to eat four to six small meals which include fresh fruit and vegetables as well as a balance of protein and carbohydrates when at home.  Obviously I try to steer clear of junk foods but do spoil myself occasionally with a pizza. After all everyone deserves a treat every now and again.”

According to de Villiers, eating foods that are low in kilojoules do not necessarily mean you are doing the right thing for your body. “The foods you include in your diet need to be nutritious and provide energy that is sustainable. For example, when we are doing intense training I take some whey protein and glutamine supplements to help with recovery. It also assists me to be fresh for the next day’s training,” he says.

“Balanced nutrition plays an essential part in the overall health of men, from their twenties well into their sixties and seventies,” says Professor Jacques Snyman, medical consultant to Resolution Health Medical Scheme.  

Read: Exercise can help to get rid of your man boobs

Healthy diet for men

Not only do men require more kilojoules than women in order to function optimally, but a protein rich diet which places emphasis on calcium intake will ensure healthy muscle and bone mass.

“As men age, their kilojoule requirements decrease and thus it is important to ensure that nutrition is changed appropriately to prevent weight gain.  However, the continued inclusion of quality nutrients are important to maintain men’s immune function and overall health, as well as preventing bone loss, eyesight loss, and muscle loss,”says Snyman.

Read: Too much dairy and carbohydrates can harm your seprm

The importance of exercise

De Villiers also highlighted the importance of exercise in leading a healthy lifestyle, particularly in light of a recent Glaxo-SmithKline survey finding that 49% of South Africans do not exercise at all.

“You don’t necessarily have to visit the gym five times a week to work on your fitness levels. You can incorporate exercise into your hobbies as well. For example, apart from my rigorous training schedule, I like to be active during my downtime by playing a round of golf with my mates and walking my dogs. In fact, an average 18-hole round of golf requires anything between three and five hours of walking translating into a good workout while doing what you love most,” says de Villiers.

“Training forms a very big part of my life and in a normal week we would have six to 10 training sessions and then a game on the weekend. A typical training session would include spending time in the gym combined with on-field sessions. Each session would last anything from 60 min to 120 min and the intensity would vary.”

“Even when regular exercise doesn’t result in weight loss it significantly reduces cardiovascular risk to the same extent as when one would be taking medication for the treatment of the disease,” says Snyman

Healthy adults should ideally aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per day, five times a week and should increase the resting heart rate for the entire 30 minute period. This threshold is usually around 180 beats per minute, minus ones age and provided that you are otherwise healthy.

“Regular physical activity will substantially lower your risk to developing a list of health conditions and diseases including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, and arthritis. It also improves your mood as it stimulates the release of endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine with its effects lasting for up to 12 hours,” Snyman concludes.

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