With more dads entering the 65-plus year category each year, this Father’s Day is a good time to consider some ways to help senior dads improve and maintain good health and fitness. It’s important for them to be able to enjoy doing things with their kids—no matter how old they or their kids are—and to maintain their own independence and mobility for a very long time, starting with walking.
Here are some ideas to encourage the senior dad in your life maintains his strength and vitality or even regain it.
“The lower people’s activity levels, the higher their level of doctors’ visits and health claims,” says Robert Sallis, MD, a board-certified family physician with Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, who holds a Certificate of Added Qualifications in sports medicine. Enjoying regular physical activity can give Dad many benefits such as:
Help Dad aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days. The more active he is, the greater the health benefits.
Studies show that men are less likely to visit the doctor and get important health screenings. As people age, the risk of developing some diseases increases. Often, the earlier a disease is diagnosed, the more likely it is that it can be cured or successfully managed. Routine checkups and screening tests are important for a senior dad to maintain good health.
Weight training can improve cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. When cardiovascular exercise is added, these benefits are maximized. Lifting weights can also improve a senior dad’s attitude and fight depression. A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling did.
Yoga means “union” and its purpose is to connect the body, mind and spirit. One of the best things about yoga is that it can be done by anyone, including senior dads. People of all shapes, sizes and ages can find a type of yoga to fit their interests and needs, no matter what their level of fitness or expertise. The key to all yoga is to focus on correct form and alignment. A series of classes in yoga can help ensure that a senior dad gets off to the right start.
Remember that normal activities count. Everyone has to walk, including senior dads. Buy an inexpensive pedometer for this Father’s Day so he can make his everyday walking count — literally. He’ll reap the benefits of a healthier lifestyle with a program designed to help him increase his physical activity level and work toward a goal of walking 10,000 steps each day. Get dad a digital pedometer and take that first step together.