Fathers are some of the most difficult people to shop for. Whenever a special occasion rolls around, you likely scramble to think of a present he would love. What can you give the man who has everything?
You might be racking your brains thinking of a Father’s Day gift but chances are, all he wants at this point is a long and healthy life. Fortunately, that’s a gift you can give him—and it’s much better than yet another pair of socks!
If he—and you—are concerned about health conditions that may be starting to creep up on him, you can give him an experience that gets him moving or introduces him to clean eating, two surefire ways to improve his health and potentially increase his life span. Sign up for a fun spinning class together, get him a trainer for a low-intensity sport, or join a healthy cooking class with him. Looking for the best restaurants for Father’s Day to celebrate the special day? Choose a healthy restaurant to show him that good-for-him food can also be delicious.
Of course, his health isn’t just something you should pay attention to on one day. Whatever you decide to do on Father’s Day, let it serve as a jump-off point for an honest conversation about his health. If he’s open to it, you can start discussing ways that he can make his golden years his best ones yet—and how he can stretch them out for as long as possible. Future-proof your dad by reminding him of these tips:
Stay at a healthy weight. The dad bod may be in but at some point it may be a cause for concern. While putting on a little weight as one ages is normal, excess weight that negatively affects his health should be avoided. Some tips to help him get to a healthy weight: Set realistic goals like trimming down 5% of his body weight to start with, form new habits like closing the kitchen after dinner or going for a walk around the neighborhood each evening, or start a friendly competition by syncing your smart watches and keeping tabs on each other’s daily physical activity.
Eat right. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Studies reveal that a healthy diet can help you sidestep ailments that plague people more as they age, including heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and cataracts.” Head to Healthy Options with your dad for a different kind of bonding experience. Steer him away from sugar- and sodium-filled processed food and fill your grocery carts with whole foods.
Some general eating guidelines from Harvard: Aim for at least five servings of fruits and veg, in a range of colors, daily. You can get creative by including veggies in omelets and soups or mixing fruits in cereal or Greek yogurt. Avoid trans fats and limit saturated fats and, if your dad doesn’t have coronary heart disease, encourage him to consume omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish like salmon. Cut back on white carbs and go for whole grains. You can even introduce him to a range of ancient grains. When it comes to protein, go for a variety of plant sources and lean meats like poultry. If he must have his occasional steak, choose leaner cuts.
Get tested. Encourage him to get screened for diseases regularly, especially if he’s at risk due to his lifestyle or family history. The Cleveland Clinic recommends that men over the age of 50 consult their doctors about screening for the following: blood pressure and cholesterol, to help monitor his risk for heart attack and stroke, among other diseases; prostate cancer; and colon cancer. (Earlier if they have a family history of these diseases.)
Quit smoking. The experts agree that one of the best things anyone can do for health is to quit smoking. As Harvard Health Publishing points out, smoking may lead to heart disease, osteoporosis, emphysema and other chronic lung problems, and stroke. If your dad is starting an exercise program, smoking could be especially hard on his lungs and he may find himself easily out of breath and discouraged.
If he’s unconvinced that quitting late in the game could possible have any effect, Harvard Health Publishing says that smoking’s effects on the lungs and heart slowly begin to reverse within a few months and can even completely reverse within a few years. The earlier he quits smoking, the sooner he lowers his risks.
Play mind games. Future-proofing your dad isn’t just about helping him maintain a sound body but also a sound mind. Help him overcome his “senior moments” by encouraging him to learn new things or new hobbies to challenge his brain, giving him a book of crossword and Sudoku puzzles to keep his mind sharp, or challenging him to a game of chess. Daily exercises for the brain are just as important as his workout sessions.
Give him support. Your dad may be resistant to change but don’t give up. Seeing your constant and consistent love and support may just be the thing he needs to make needed tweaks to his lifestyle and get him on a path to a long and healthy life. And that’s a Father’s Day gift that will keep on giving!