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How to be a Healthy and Active Grandparent

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 22 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Healthy Grandparent Child Grandchild

A few generations ago, grandparents seemed much older than they do today. Modern grandparents are often healthy and vibrant, with rewarding careers and rich social lives.

There’s no doubt that being healthy makes it easier for grandparents to play actively with their energetic grandchildren, and there are steps that grandparents can take to keep themselves fit and active.

The Importance of a Healthy Diet

When they are very young, most people can eat anything and still feel pretty good. As they age, though, the affects of a poor diet begin to show and most people realise that they need to pay attention to the types of foods that they eat if they hope to maintain robust health.

Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats, and lean sources of protein are often considered the best for long term health and energy. Most dieticians also recommend limited amounts of low fat or fat free dairy products to ensure adequate calcium intake, along with plenty of fresh, clean drinking water for proper hydration.

While being sure to eat enough healthy foods is important, it also matters that grandparents (and the rest of us!) limit the amount of empty calories that they consume. Sweets, crisps, and fizzy drinks may be alright for occasional treats, but they are not meant for daily consumption, and alcoholic beverages, for those who choose to imbibe, should be enjoyed in moderation. Overindulgence in such items can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Staying Fit as a Grandparent

There’s a saying about fitness that is quite true, “use it or lose it.” Inactivity not only zaps energy levels in the short term, but diminishes overall fitness fairly quickly, making it harder to get back into shape. In order to feel their best, grandparents should incorporate physical activity onto their everyday routines, making time for a bit of daily exercise.

Ideally, grandparents should participate in a number of different activities so that they can preserve flexibility, maintain muscle mass, and support their cardiovascular health. Stretching, yoga, and swimming are all good choices, and many fitness experts agree that if only one activity is chosen, it should be walking. Walking for fitness is an ideal choice for many because it requires little more than comfortable clothing, supportive shoes, and a safe, level walking area.

A brisk, thirty-minute walk every day can help to keep weight in check, lower blood pressure, maintain healthy blood glucose levels, and promote an overall sense of well-being. Studies show that regular exercise can even help relieve anxiety and minimise the symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

Having Fun with Grandchildren

Kids can be a lot of fun. Typically, they laugh easily, are satisfied with the simple things in life, and are always up for an adventure. Most of us could learn a lesson about living by watching how children do it.

Grandparents are in the unique position of being allowed to spend time and play with the children that they love most, usually without being responsible for the kids’ bedtimes, academic achievement, or nutritional status. That sounds like a recipe for fun. With the permission of the children’s parents, of course, happy grandparents have been known to keep kids up until the wee hours of the night for story-time, encourage jumping on the bed, and serve dessert as the first course of an evening meal.

Grandparents often share very special bonds with their grandchildren. Both generations accept each other easily and expect nothing more from one another than unbridled love, which makes it easy for them to spend many happy times together, building memories that both will hold as some of their most precious.

Taking steps to eat properly and get plenty of exercise can help grandparents to stay well, giving them more quality years in which to build warm and loving relationships with their grandchildren – and that should be plenty of motivation for them to establish and maintain healthy habits!

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