What type of grandparent do you want to be?
The strong and healthy kind that plays with the grandkids, even learning new sports later in life?
Or the frail, retreating kind that sits and watches, instead?
Well, we all know which we would rather be: strong and healthy, right?
Strength makes all the difference as we age. We all lose muscle as we age unless we practice resistance training to maintain muscle. Without it, we get to the point where we simply can’t do much of anything.
But for Vincent Bednar, strength was no impediment when his grandsons asked him to go downhill skiing with him when he was 70.
That’s because Vincent had been working out for decades and had the ability to take up the kids on their invitation.
“It’s an awful lot of fun,” says Vincent, now 74, a retired landscape architect. “It was an event when the whole family would go skiing, and the boys asked me to go with them. It was really wonderful.”
Grandkids As Fitness Motivation
No one wants to be the boring Nana or Pop-Pop, right? In fact, enjoying their grandchildren is one of the top reasons why people over 50 decide to get in shape or stay in shape.
- Today’s grandparents want to share experiences with their grandkids, not just buy them things.
- Almost 70% live within 50 miles.
- And polls show that grandparenting stands out as one of the most positive aspects of later life.
For Julie, 63, being fit means she and her husband can play golf and travel. But the granddaughter is No. 1. That’s what got her going and what keeps her working out.
“I want to be an active grandparent, not a standby grandparent,” says Julie. “I want to get on the floor and pick her up and swim and do all those things. I don’t want to miss a thing.”
Strength Is Key
Skiing requires strength, agility and endurance. And none of that was an issue for Vincent, who started lifting weights in his 40s to manage common middle-age spread. He enjoyed it and found it effective for decades. But when he quit smoking in his early 60s, Vincent gained 30 pounds on his 5-foot, 8-inch frame and ballooned to 210.
He redoubled his commitment to strength training and to eating right and quickly went back down to his fighting weight of 180. So, he was ready when skiing called.
He’s been on the slopes countless times on his own and with the boys. Now, the family is planning a ski trip to an Oregon next winter before the grandsons go off to college.
“I wish I had started decades earlier,” he says. “The kids were really encouraging and helpful.”
His philosophy is based on making the most of life and time with his family, at any age.
“You’ve gotta be able to move, to stay active and enjoy yourself,” he says. “I don’t want to lose the ability to do those things. And you can’t do any of them if you’re not strong.”
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.