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For Father’s Day, encourage Dad to take care of his health

Fitness over 50

Happy Father’s Day to all our dads out there. What would we do without our dads? Who would we borrow money from, or get to fix that running toilet?

Dads are special because they love us in a different way than moms. Sometimes they just want to cut up with us, and do the fun stuff. (I think that’s pretty typical, to leave the hard stuff for mom to deal with.)

But no matter the relationship you have with your dad, or your kid’s dad, one thing is true. We want them to be around for a very long time.     Does the dad in your life take care of his health? Many men can be stubborn and stoic when it comes to going to a doctor. Maybe it’s just the fear of the glove! Or maybe they think they are invincible.

After all, we often think of our husbands and fathers as super-strong, take-care-of-business guys. But men carry a lot of stress, especially if they financially support the family all on their own.

With that stress come unwanted side effects, and health can go by the wayside. (Generally, I would say that parents of both sexes are guilty of this.)

Ladies, we need to support the men in our lives to get out and exercise 3-5 times a week. If that means joining the local Y, or getting a road bike or a new tennis racquet, we need to support that. Especially if their jobs carry a lot of stress.

Stress can be a killer. We all need ways to unwind, to sweat out the impurities we take in, and to make ourselves stronger.

Just because we are aging does not mean we can’t be stronger and healthier. Men need to focus on strength-training and flexibility. Yes, I said flexibility. That is a hard pill to swallow for many men.

Many people only want to focus on results they can see. We cannot actually see the outward signs of becoming more flexible, but what that really means is being more functional. Being more flexible also means fewer injuries. Those two alone should be great motivators.

Men have some similar needs as women when it comes to routine medical tests, such as keeping track of blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, and keeping a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 18.5-24.9.

Men also need to get a colonoscopy when they hit 50, unless they have a family history of colon cancer and earlier testing is called for.

No one I ever met said “oh goody” when it came time for this test. But for both sexes it is a necessary thing. Many colon cancer deaths could be prevented with regular screening.

A prostate exam might be recommended for men. There are two screening tests: a PSA blood test or a DRE (digital rectal exam). According to the American Cancer Society, men with an average risk should discuss these tests with their physician starting at age 50.

The controversy surrounding the PSA test is it sometimes has false readings. As always, just start a discussion with your doctor on when and how to decide whether or not to have this screening or any other. Each man has individual needs based on lifestyle and genetics.

If the dad or husband in your life is carrying the burdens of life on his shoulders and not taking the time to care for his health, then it is up to us ladies to hold their hands and gently push them through the doctor’s office door or down to the local gym.

Encourage lots of activities, either solo or with the family or a group of exercise buddies. An investment of time now to exercise the heart, get stronger and be more flexible will make the golden years really glow.


Ann Angell is a certified instructor and personal trainer and  manager of the Oxford YMCA. Her fitness column appears the third Sunday of each month.