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Dad bod: Should you love it or lose it?

By Michelle Rogers, CPT | June 14, 2018 | Health Conditions

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Are you rocking a dad bod? That’s a term affectionately coined in recent years to refer to guys with extra padding around the middle.

If so, you’re not alone. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 32 percent of American men age 20 to 34 are overweight, 40 percent of 35-44-year-olds, and 41 percent of 45-54-year-old men. That means there are almost 28 million dad bods in the U.S.

According to a recent survey promoted by a popular gym chain, 70 percent of people believe that dad bods are universally accepted today, and about two-thirds of women find men with dad bods both attractive (67 percent) and sexy (62 percent). The report even says that 65 percent of women would rather marry someone with a dad bod than a man with a six-pack.

Dad bods are in. So what’s the problem?

While in recent years it’s been the trend to embrace the dad bod, being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle is not healthy. Numerous studies have shown that excess abdominal fat greatly increases the chance of dying from cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States.

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Obesity can contribute to high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol – which can ultimately lead to heart disease. And a lack of physical activity has been clearly shown to be a significant factor for cardiovascular disease (American Heart Association).

Exercise helps zap stress and burnout

For many men who juggle a busy life of career and family, finding the time to devote to fitness is a major obstacle. However, having a busy, stressful life means that you need the benefits of exercise all the more.

Men tend to be reluctant to believe that stress is having an impact on their health, reports the American Psychological Association. Yet men are more likely than women to report being diagnosed with the types of chronic physical illnesses that are often linked to high-stress levels and unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors.

Studies have shown that physical activity can reduce burnout, a severe and persistent form of fatigue from work stress. Exercise was found to be the most effective buffer against burnout, particularly for those with sedentary jobs. (IDEA Health and Fitness Journal, June 2018)

Regular exercise will help you manage your stress — and by extension be a better father, spouse, and employee. Meditation; yoga; martial arts; participating in a team sport that you enjoy such as golf, bowling or softball; taking your dogs for a walk; or playing with your kids in the park are all healthy outlets for stress. Getting enough sleep is important, too.

Easy ways busy guys can ditch the dad bod

Start small, keep it simple

If you aren’t accustomed to exercising, start with 15 to 20 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week, and gradually work your way up to more.

Easing into exercise, and being consistent with working out, can also help you remain injury-free. Guys over 30 are especially susceptible to weekend warrior injuries.

While you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day, you can break this up into three 10-minute segments throughout your day if that works better for you. 

And it doesn’t have to be in a gym; all physical activity counts. Find something you enjoy doing, and carve out some time for it.

Here are some simple ways dads can burn an extra 300 calories (230 lb. man)

Watch your portions

As the saying goes, “You can’t out-train a bad diet.” If you’re looking to reduce belly fat, you likely won’t get there through exercise alone. The good news is small changes can make a big difference when it comes to your diet, too.

To get started without a lot of pain, consider cutting back rather than eliminating your favorites.

It all adds up

If you burn an extra 300 calories per day with physical activity and reduce your food/beverage intake by 300 calories a day, you could lose over a pound a week. That’s more than 50 pounds in a year!

Take advantage of your benefits

As a Blue Cross NC member, you can get discounts on a wide variety of fitness, health and lifestyle products, and services through Blue365 — including gym memberships, fitness trackers and more.

Log on to Blue Connect to find out if your plan offers health coaching. 

Access nutrition counseling services by calling the number on the back of your member ID card or use Find A Doctor to locate a provider.

Do it for them

Don’t worry guys – women still love your dad bod. And you should love yourself, too, just as you are. Be healthy and work out regularly, but don’t obsess over your body image. 

Take care of yourself so you can be there for your family for many years to come. And when you do, you are setting a positive example for your kids of the importance of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. The time and effort are worth it. Your family is worth it. And so are you.