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Some men naturally accept the signs of ageing, such as hair loss, weight gain, lower sex drive, and reduced athletic ability. However, this can be a dangerous stage for many men, and one which they need not resign themselves to. 

Contrary to popular belief, it is not inevitable that our health should decline in middle age, and it is possible to stay in great shape by avoiding some of the bad habits that a busy lifestyle can bring. 

The 30s and 40s are often an age when life’s responsibilities step up with families and careers, and this can mean that exercise and healthy eating can hit the back burner. This can lead to weight gain, which further reduces the motivation to exercise because the extra pounds tend to make it more laborious. 

Some men also begin to notice that their hairline is receding and that their remaining hair is becoming fine and sparse. This is usually caused by androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern hair loss, which affects around half of all men by the age of 50. 

This is caused by a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which reacts to the hair follicles in the scalp, causing them to die. Male pattern hair loss is a hereditary condition that is passed down through families, and it can be treated with medication but not cured. It’s not a medically serious problem, and it’s not possible to have NHS treatment for it. 

However, for many men, losing their hair often combines with the other signs of middle age, such as weight gain and dipping testosterone levels, and it can be a psychologically distressing experience. A full head of hair is associated with youth and attractiveness, and the balding process can lead to lower self esteem and a loss of social confidence. 

There are some very effective treatments for male pattern baldness, including a product called finasteride, which is available to buy in pharmacies. Finasteride works by preventing the body from manufacturing DHT, and it is best used from the very first signs of hair loss before the hair follicles have died completely. 

Hair loss can also be caused by stress, which is another common issue for middle aged men. It’s a time when many men have lost touch with the friends of their youth, and do not have a social network in place to support them, or feel that they have anyone close that they can open up to about their problems. 

The most common age for divorce for men is 45, and for men in a relationship there are often greater challenges to deal with, such as juggling jobs and children with running a household. Sadly, middle aged men are the group most at risk of suicide, which may be caused by social isolation combined with the pressures of mid life.

So, what can men do to protect themselves both physically and emotionally as they get older? Fortunately, there are several strategies that men can take. The biggest enemy of good health as we get older is a sedentary lifestyle, which leads to weight gain and related conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. 

Rather than make sudden changes with overwhelming targets, such as getting up to hit the gym at 6am every day and denying yourself all treats, it’s much better to set small achievable goals. This will mean that you are much more likely to stick with them and form habits that you can build on over time.

Being active doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym, it could just be lifting weights for ten minutes at home or going for a 15 minute walk at lunch time. The most important thing is to achieve the goal on a regular basis, so that you can gradually set bigger targets for yourself. 

Diet is another area that can be the downfall of middle aged men. In the 20s and 30s, it may be possible to get away with drinking booze everyday and eating takeaways most nights, but in the 40s and 50s this will set you on a path to high blood pressure and obesity. 

The diet most often recommended by health and nutrition experts is the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fresh fruit and vegetables, and low in processed foods that contain a lot of sugar, salt, and saturated fats.

Maintaining hobbies and friendships can take more effort as we get older, because we have less spare time and energy. However, making the effort to get out and see people can keep us mentally as well as physically active.