Men's Fitness


Men's fitness includes nutrition and exercise that pertain to males, both teenagers and adults. It also includes mental and sexual health.


Men have different physiology than women and generally have different fitness goals and nutritional needs. For example, men have a higher risk of heart disease than women, so regular cardiovascular (cardio or aerobic) exercises are especially important for males. Men's fitness can include a wide range of topics such as nutrition, mental health, sports, bodybuilding, and sexual health. Research shows that regular physical activity, even walking for 30 minutes a day, may lower the risk of erectile dysfunction (impotence).


Regular exercise and proper nutrition is essential for men of all ages, from teenagers to seniors. In the United States, less than 10% of high school boys met the minimum requirements of physical activity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends teenage males get at least an hour of aerobic exercise a day and a minimum of three hours a week of muscle-strengthening exercise. For middle-age men, at least 45 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a day and 45 minutes three times a week should be spent on resistance or strength training. Research shows that men slowly start to lose muscle mass and strength beginning at about age 30. In middle-aged men, metabolism also slows, allowing fat to accumulate, especially around the abdomen. In men age 65 and older, physical fitness is important to help maintain muscle tone, stamina, flexibility, and balance. Exercise for seniors should include 30 minutes a day of light to moderate aerobics (such as walking briskly) and 30 minutes two or three times a week of resistance exercise, including 5–10 minutes each of warm-up and cool-down exercises that includes stretching.

Nutrition is an important component of men's fitness. Men have a higher metabolism than women and thereby burn more calories when doing the same or similar activities. Active males ages 14 to 18 need 2,400 to 2,800 calories a day, ages 19 to 30 need 3,000 calories daily, men ages 31 to 50 require 2,800 to 3,000 calories a day, and men age 51 and older need 2,400 to 2,800 calories a day. “Active” means physical activity equal to walking briskly at least 3 mi. (5 km) a day in an hour or less. Moderate activity means activity that equals 1–3 mi. (1.6–5 km) a day in an hour or less. Moderately active males require the following amounts of calories per day: ages 14 to 18, 2,400 to 2,800; ages 19 to 30, 2,600 to 2,800; ages 31 to 50, 2,400 to 2,600; and age 51 and older, 2,200 to 2,400. For males who engage in light activity associated with daily living, the daily calorie needs are: ages 14 to 18, 2,200; ages 19 to 30, 2,400; ages 31 to 50, 2,200; and age 50 and older, 2,000, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Role in human health

The benefits of proper nutrition and fitness for men is enormous, including reducing the risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Aerobic exercise—
A type of exercise of brisk or vigorous activity that requires the heart and lungs to work harder to supply oxygen to the body.
Relating to the heart and blood vessels (circulatory system).
Erectile dysfunction—
A medical condition, formerly called impotence, that prevents a male from getting and maintaining an erection.
A band of strong, fibrous tissue that connects bones to joints.
A cord of strong tissue that connects muscles to bones.

Men vary greatly in their physical fitness levels and goals. A workout routine for a young, healthy male, often for improved athletic or sports performance, is different than an exercise program for a middle-aged, out-of-shape man. Men's fitness includes all levels of activity, depending on age, ability, and health, from mild aerobic (walking briskly), to weightlifting that builds muscle mass and strength. There are also various levels of moderate exercises including aerobic and weight-bearing routines.

A general basic exercise routine for men ages 18 to 50 includes five areas of physical fitness: muscle strength, muscle endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and maintaining a healthy body weight and composition. To improve these five areas, three physical fitness routines are needed: strength or weight training, cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise, and stretching.

Obesity and men

Obesity is a bigger problem among men than women, statistics show. In the United States, More than 72% of American men age 20 and older are either overweight or obese. One third of all U.S. males age 20 and older are considered obese and nearly 6% are extremely obese, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD). In Canada, the obesity rate for males ages 20–24 is 12% and for men ages 55–64, the rate is 22%, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Common diseases and disorders

The most common sports and fitness injuries for men are ankle sprain, groin pull, hamstring strain, shin splints, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in the knee, and rotator cuff strain, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

Sprains and strains

A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament, the band of connective tissues that joins the end of one bone with another. Sprains are caused by trauma such as a fall or blow to the body that knocks a joint out of position and, in the worst case, ruptures the supporting ligaments. Sprains can range from Grade I (minimally stretched ligament) to Grade III (a complete tear). Areas of the body most vulnerable to sprains are ankles, knees, and wrists. A strain is a twist, pull, or tear of a muscle or tendon, a cord of tissue connecting muscle to bone.

Knee injuries

Knee injuries can range from mild to severe. Some of the less severe, yet still painful and functionally limiting, knee problems include runner's knee (pain or tenderness close to or under the knee cap at the front or side of the knee), iliotibial band syndrome (pain on the outer side of the knee), and tendonitis, also called tendinosis (marked by degeneration within a tendon, usually where it joins the bone). More severe injuries include bone bruises or damage to the cartilage or ligaments.


A fracture is a break in the bone that can occur from either a quick, one-time injury to the bone (acute fracture) or from repeated stress to the bone over time (stress fracture). Acute fractures can be simple (a clean break with little damage to the surrounding tissue) or compound (a break in which the bone pierces the skin). Most fractures are emergencies and require prompt medical attention. A fracture that breaks the skin is especially dangerous because there is a high risk of infection. Stress fractures occur largely in the feet and legs and are common in sports that require repetitive impact, primarily running/jumping activities such as jogging and basketball. Running creates forces two to three times a person's body weight on the lower limbs.

Other sports injuries

Other men's fitness injuries include achilles tendon injuries, compartment syndrome, and shin splints. In many parts of the body, muscles (along with the nerves and blood vessels that run alongside and through them) are enclosed in a “compartment” formed of a tough membrane called fascia. When muscles become swollen, they can fill the compartment to capacity, causing interference with nerves and blood vessels as well as damage to the muscles themselves. The resulting painful condition is referred to as compartment syndrome.

Shin splints are primarily seen in runners. While the term “shin splints” has been widely used to describe any sort of leg pain associated with exercise, the term actually refers to pain along the tibia or shin bone, the large bone in the front of the lower leg. This pain can occur at the front outside part of the lower leg, including the foot and ankle (anterior shin splints) or at the inner edge of the bone where it meets the calf muscles (medial shin splints).

Achilles tendon injuries can be sudden and agonizing. Achilles tendon injuries include a stretch, tear, or irritation to the tendon connecting the calf muscle to the back of the heel. Achilles tendon injuries are common in older people who may not exercise regularly or do not take time to stretch properly before an activity.

See also Aerobic training ; Exercise ; Fracture .



Ellsworth, Pamela. 100 Questions & Answers About Men's Health. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2010.

Spinelli, Frank. The Advocate Guide to Gay Men's Health and Wellness. Los Angeles: Alyson Books, 2008.

Villepigue, James, and Hugo Rivera. The Body Sculpting Bible for Men, 4th ed. Long Island City: Hatherleigh Press, 2016.

Weber, Joel, and Mike Zimmerman. The Men's Health Big Book of Food & Nutrition. Emmaus: Rodale Books, 2010.


Bornstein, Adam. “The No-Fail Workout.” Men's Health (June 2010): 46.

Clouatre, Dallas. “The Special Nutritional Needs of Men.” Total Health Online (April 2011): 19.

Martin, Peter. “Extreme Health.” Esquire (April 2011): 88.

Smith, Ian. “The Man Workout.” Jet (June 14, 2010): 22.

Wilkinson, John. “Man Medicine.” Redbook (September 2011): 100.


“Men's Fitness and Health: Fact Not Hype.” (accessed January 20, 2017).

“Minority Men's Health Clinic.” Cleveland Clinic Health. (accessed January 20, 2017).

Vera, Kathryn. “How to Tone Your Body for Men.” . February 8, 2014. (accessed January 20, 2017).


American College of Sports Medicine, 401 W Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN, 46202-3233, (317) 637-9200, Fax: (317) 634-7817, .

American Council on Exercise, 4851 Paramount Dr., San Diego, CA, 92123, (858) 576-6500, (888) 825-3636, Fax: (858) 576-6564,, .

Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals, 110-225 Select Ave., Toronto, M1X 0B5, Canada, (800) 667-5622, Fax: 1 (416) 493-1756,, .

Men's Health Network, PO Box 75972, Washington, DC, 20013, (202) 543-6461,, .

Native American Fitness Council, PO Box K, Flagstaff, AZ, 86002, (928) 774-3048, Fax: (928) 774-5753,, .

Ken R. Wells

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.