Why grandkids are the best workout partners
Only one in ten Australians over 50 exercise enough to gain cardiovascular benefit. Luckily, studies repeatedly show it’s never too late to change your exercising habits.
Exercising when you’re over 50 relies on you finding an activity you enjoy. You are far more likely to keep up with an exercise routine if it’s fun rather than a chore.
Lack of physical activity has a huge impact on age-related health decline. Independence, recovery from illness and lowered risk of disease are all affected by fitness levels. Without physical exercise, people over 50 can experience a range of health problems, ranging from reduced coordination and balance to less joint flexibility and mobility and increased blood pressure.
You may think exercise is no longer appropriate but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The human body responds to exercise no matter its age and exercise really does have an astounding number of benefits.
Activities you might find enjoyable include:
- Group aerobic classes designed to burn off calories, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, maintain joint movement, improve heart health and increase overall energy levels.
- Moderate endurance exercise such as tennis, brisk walking, swimming and hiking.
- Strength training with low impact exercises that build muscle, especially in the legs and hips.
- Simple chair exercises and stretches you can do in your kitchen.
- Low impact exercises such as water aerobics, yoga, tai chi and pilates.
Or you can hang out with your grandchildren!
The benefits of grandparenting for physical health
For children, grandparents provide stability, safety, wisdom, love and fun. In return, children help grandparents stave off depression, boost social connections, stay mentally sharp and keep physically fit.
The Raising Modern Australia report has revealed that 92.5% of grandparents agree that helping care for their grandchildren on a weekly basis has positive health outcomes for themselves.
Spending quality time with your grandkids keeps you active. Considered “the fountain of youth”, grandkids will keep you feeling (and looking!) younger for longer. Playing with grandkids improves joint mobility, increases physical strength and energy and helps prevent illness and disease.
Sure, there are plenty of ways to stay in shape yourself but involving your grandkids in your healthy lifestyle can be even more inspiring and helpful to all involved. Not only can you stay fit and give your children a parenting break, you can teach your entire family that taking care of your body is important at any age.
How to exercise with grandkids
Go for a walk
Walking is a relaxing and stress-reducing exercise that can help you connect with your grandkids on a deeper level. Walk around the block, the neighbourhood, around the park or in the bush and chat as you go. Try to walk for at least 30 minutes to reap the benefit.
Play fitness video games
Fitness video games on the Nintendo Wii and XBOX Kinect are high tech ways to get active and have fun with the whole family. You can choose from bowling, tennis, boxing, dancing, mixed martial arts, baseball and adventure or tone it down with yoga. Pick your favourite style and get moving (and laughing).
Hula hooping has come a long way in recent years and today you can pick up hula hoops designed for all kinds of purposes, including core and cardio work. Hula hooping requires stamina and coordination and skill. As you dance, twirl, walk and turn you’ll be giving your whole body a workout.
Offering to take your grandkids to swimming lessons is one less thing their parents have to do. The kids will benefit by gaining confidence in the water while you’ll benefit from moving around the pool, lifting them and swimming. Older kids can be challenged to do laps – just be sure they are safe and you don’t push yourself too far.
Hiking and camping
Getting outdoors with grandparents is something most kids love to do. Fish, forage and cook by the campfire and you’re all guaranteed a memorable experience. Camping goes hand-in-hand with hiking and setting up a tent is great exercise too.
Go for a bike ride
Biking your local coastal and country trails can be leisurely or fast paced depending on your desired workout. You can install a baby seat when the kids are young and help assist with training wheels to create independent riders.
Getting outdoors in the garden is a fabulous way to bond with your grandkids, teach them something new, exercise and keep the house looking great. Grow some veggies and herbs to teach kids about healthy food while you’re at it.
Other benefits of exercising with your grandchildren
Nothing makes you feel young and curious again like experiencing the world through the eyes of children. Everything to them is new and exciting and when you take the time to play with them, their excitement is contagious.
Tossing a ball in the playground, swimming and walking around the zoo are all exciting activities that keep you exercising for optimal physical health.
Coddling and cuddling with your grandkids has been proven to boost your immune system. When exposed to more touch, your inflammatory cells decrease and your white blood cell count increases, boosting your immune health.
Extending your lifespan
A study of 500 people aged over 70 showed grandparents who occasionally care for their grandkids had a 37 percent reduced risk of dying in the next ten years.
As you cuddle and hold your grandchildren you increase the level of oxytocin ‘the love hormone’ released in your body. A kiss or holding of a hand gives you a sense of peace, calmness and security.
Lowering your risk of Alzheimer’s
Research shows that grandmothers who care for their grandkids at least once a week have better cognitive function and a lower risk of developing dementia.
Why wouldn’t you make your grandkids your workout buddy?
About the Author:
This post was kindly contributed by Simon Hovell. Simon is the proud father of his daughter Lily and therefore grandfather to her two cats Mojo and Panda. When he isn’t cheering on Lily’s hockey team, Simon enjoys going for a run in his local park and at the beach. He also loves getting together with good friends over a nice meal and could spend hours talking about cars. Simon enjoys keeping abreast of changing technologies and health trends that affect modern Australia, something he sees on a daily basis as the Chief Marketing Officer at Greenstone.