11 Jun Exercise for New Dads
The decision to start a family is life-changing and should focus families’ attention on health. The health system justifiably focuses on the needs of mothers and babies, but the needs of fathers, as equal parenting partners, can often be overlooked.
Engaging dads and prospective dads to be involved and proactive parents as early as possible is important and will positively impact growth and development of their children.
AUSTRALIAN FATHERS AT A GLANCE:
- 1 in 5 Australians are fathers – that’s 5 million fathers
- 1 in 20 fathers experience depression while their partner is pregnant
- Men’s preconception health affects fertility and the health of their children
- For infertile couples, the male contributes to infertility in around half of all cases
- After a miscarriage or stillbirth, men often hide their grief to support their partners
- Father-child bonding contributes to healthy child development
- Up to 1 in 10 fathers experience post-natal depression
- The risk of suicide is higher for men during pregnancy or the first year or their child’s life than at any other time in their lives
- 38% of new fathers worry about their mental health
- 1 in 5 fathers report feeling totally isolated in the first year of fatherhood
- 45% of fathers are not aware that men can experience postnatal depression
- Most men report finding real joy in being a father
PREPARATION IS THE KEY:
When preparing to become a dad there are lots of things to think about and do – attending formal prenatal and parenting programs and classes can be a great way to learn some things. There are some great resources online and in the community, to assist dads in many different situations including:
Mental health can be impacted as you navigate parenthood. Up to one in 10 new dads struggle with post-natal depression. If you find you are feeling down and struggling with difficult emotions, there are specific services to support fathers. PANDA offers support and services specifically for dads that complement healthy exercise habits.
HEALTHY DADS ENCOURAGE HEALTHY CHILDREN:
Dads are important role models and facilitators for good eating habits and physical activity levels. Overweight fathers are more likely to have overweight children and yet, men are less likely to attempt weight loss than women. Taking a positive step early to maintain or regain a healthy weight through good exercise and nutrition habits is important. Fathers who are active and play in a physically active way are more likely to have children who are also physically active.
It’s not uncommon to find that focusing on your own health and fitness becomes a lower priority when you become a dad. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Finding a balance between self-care and role modelling the healthy behaviours you want to see in your children is important.
There are a number of ways that you can look after your own health and fitness and be a positive role model for your children. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:
- Plan your time – make time for activity with your children AND on your own
- Meet other dads locally and share the care with your partner, friends or family
- Find a family activity – weekly events like parkrun are inclusive and welcoming places for families and individuals
- Set up a home exercise space (safely) – check out the Exercise Right at Home workouts
- Find out if there are parent-friendly exercise programs / facilities in your local community
- Chat with your local Accredited Exercise Physiologist or Accredited Exercise Scientist to get additional support
CHECK OUT OUR MEN’S HEALTH EBOOK:
This latest eBook by Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) has been designed to encourage Australian men to become more active for their physical and mental health. It also covers the benefits of exercise for a wide range of common conditions adult men may encounter.
SPEAK TO THE EXERCISE PROFESSIONALS:
ESSA has an online directory of more than 6,500 Accredited Exercise Physiologists around Australia who are highly trained to support you to develop and implement a safe, effective and personalised exercise plan.
Click here to find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist near you.
Written by Vanessa Jones, Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Health Promotion Manager at Healthy Male (Andrology Australia)