Fitness for Fathers: Strong at Every Age

As a caregiver, you are undoubtedly concerned for the health of your parent. And let’s face it, you need to be concerned and dedicated to your continued good health. Keeping physically fit goes a long way in helping someone live a quality life as they age. It’s important to keep dad motivated in a fitness routine, especially if his health is diminished and even more important if his cognitive abilities have declined. Let’s explore some simple fitness routines for older men. In many ways they are not much different from those for younger men. The main thing to keep in mind is intensity, safety and frequency as older people need more time to recover and can injure themselves more easily.

Move Naturally

There are pockets of geography around the world called Blue Zones where people typically live to an older age more so than the rest of the world. One of the principles people follow is to “Move Naturally.” People are less concerned with getting on the elliptical or treadmill (though I encourage you to do it if you can) than they are about building movement into their natural routine. Here’s an example. If my mother-in-law, 85, is visiting us and we are on the first floor of our house and she has to use the bathroom, instead of using the perfectly functional powder room on the first floor, she will walk up the steps to the farthest bathroom in the house. That is moving naturally. And women tend to do this more so than men. Consider that two, twenty-minute walks a day can make your real age five years younger. So encourage dad to move naturally and incorporate this idea of moving naturally into your routine too.


Stretching is important for everyone, and even more so as we age. Believe me, I know! Just getting into a squat position for me is hard. Stretching is basic and because it’s basic, we get lazy and don’t do it. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has some great flexibility exercises for seniors that you dad may want to incorporate into his routine. And remember: always warm up before stretching. Attempting to stretch without warming up can result in injury. Warm up with a few minutes of easy walking first, or if you’re planning to do other exercises, stretch after, not before.

Weight Training

According to Men’s Health,

“Once a man passes the half-century mark, he can expect to lose 1 percent of his muscle each year for the rest of his life.”

In essence older men have to lift more often than younger men to maintain muscle, which is essential for strength and balance as you age. According to,

“Resistance training can enhance muscle mass and function even in 90 year old subjects (McComas 2005). Individuals over the age of 90 have been shown to make significant strength gains on a weight training program (Fiataron et al. 1990).”

The bottom line is that you are never too old. Consult with dad’s physician and a qualified fitness expert before deciding on the right combination resistance training exercises for him.

Balance Training

One of the best things you can do as you age is to improve your balance. Better balance means less risk of falling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury. Each year, 2.5 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.

Check out these balance exercises from the NIH.

Track Progress

There are devices that can help your older loved one track their fitness progress AND give them access to support if something goes wrong. That is important because it will help motivate dad to set goals and keep moving. And these devices let you know when you need to step in with words of encouragement and praise.

You may want to consider some of these tips that were written for mom, particularly group classes and Tai Chi, which women seem to migrate to but which men could benefit from participating.

Get dad off the couch. It will reduce your stress level! Coach Jim Valvano once said:

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”

Now it’s time to show how much you believe in him.

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Tagged with: dad, fathers day, fitness, senior fitness

8 thoughts on “Fitness for Fathers: Strong at Every Age

  1. James Cowan
    November 3, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Approaching 74 year sold with little if any cartilage in my knees i have recently taken a membership at a local health club and i’m doing resistance training in the pool

    After one month of this i actually took a small walk at the local park on Nov 3rd

    and enjoyed it very much . Now i’m ready for my next visit to the club

    Your article has helped with great advice on doing things naturally

    Thank you

  2. ZIGGY
    December 16, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    I am 85. I spend Half an hour in the pool 5 days a week. (Closed sat & sun) 25 min on the bike in the work out room 5 days. Ride my bike sat & sun. Get up & do it PLEASE!!!! Ziggy

  3. george
    December 17, 2016 at 3:36 am

    I’m 71 been working out for ever , no can tell my age . all I can say stay physical an eat clean

  4. Eduardo
    December 20, 2016 at 10:54 am

    I am 77 and in great condition.

    I do gym exercises and stretching after breakfast every morning for about 15 minutes. After it I play pickleball for about 2 hours, every morning.

    Also every day a do balance walk on a street curb for about 1/3 of a block, 2 ways, as I walk from the parking lot to a play I go every day.

    And I am very active taking care of my yard and home instead of hiring landscapers and housekeepers to do it. Some times I use stairs instead of elevators when I visit some buildings.

    I feel very proud of myself and it makes my life more enjoyable.

  5. Jack Pennock
    December 23, 2016 at 3:11 am

    I am 77 eat right and do aqua aerobics 2 hours –3 days a week and ride a stationary bike on medimum resistance the other 3 days a week plus yard and indoor and outdoor house maintenance plus work on the vehicles All my vitals are normal and blood test coming back in midrange I really don’t feel this age and have been told I look in my mid to late 50s The secret is eat well –keep off the weight , drink plenty of fluids sleep, and exercise like hell My grand father had this same routine and died when he was 98 being hit by a car riding his bike several miles a day you HANG IN THERE SENIORS 100 IS THE MINIMUM GOAL NOW!!!

  6. Claude
    December 24, 2016 at 2:24 am

    Be happy, work at something you like all the days of your life. Eat well, exercise well with a daily dozen, sleep well, stay social and thank God for all your blessings is all anyone needs to live a wonderful life. So press on. Now you know what to do. Act. ?

  7. Wade Newman
    June 18, 2018 at 5:55 am

    Suggestion #2. This is is completely outdated information. U should Never stretch cold muscles. U should always warm up ur muscles before stretching them. A simple google of “when should u stretch ur muscles” will give u tons of information telling u not to stretch cold muscles.

    1. June 22, 2018 at 10:09 pm

      Thank you for this feedback, Wade. We will be sure to look into this and revise accordingly.

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