It’s the catch-up phone calls from family members. Or the games in the park. Or the homemade cards, filled with child-scrawled promises to wash your car or cook you dinner. If you’re a dad, there’s a lot to love about Father’s Day. And if your Father’s Day plans happen to include a family gathering, you’re doing one of the best possible things for yourself, and the ones you love.
It’s true that gathering or eating with loved ones hold a surprising number of benefits. And since we’re also smack dab in the middle of Men’s Health Week, we thought it fitting to tout the perks of your family Father’s Day barbecue for you, as well as your whole family.
- Embrace the embrace. Do you come from a long line of huggers? Even if hugging isn’t your favorite thing, go head and open your arms. It turns out that hugging someone you trust, such as a family member, releases oxytocin. This hormone can improve blood pressure, anxiety levels, and improve memory function, all of which are linked to common health problems in med. Come on now, bring it in.
- Make it regular. A study completed by the University of Michigan that spanned the years from 2004 to 2010 found that those who saw friends or family three times per week or more over these 6 years boasted an impressively low rate of depression compared with those who never or rarely see loved ones. Considering that over 30% of men report having at least one period of depression in the lifetime according to JAMA Psychiatry, this can be a pretty big deal.
- Eat your peas. Did you know that men are less likely to eat fruits and vegetables than women, according to a study by the National Cancer Institute? Families who eat together on a regular basis are more likely to eat healthfully, eat smaller portions, and try new foods. This is especially true for kids, who are also less likely to develop obesity or depression if they eat with loved ones regularly.
- Live long and multiply. You know those kids who can drive you crazy sometimes? They’re actually responsible for more than gray hair. Fathers have a lower risk for early deaths from accidents, cancer, or circulatory problems. Repeated instances of stepping on Legos with bare feet notwithstanding.
- Remember this. Nothing can create valuable memories quite like the family game of bocce ball or horseshoes. No matter what age you or your family members are, positive memories are important for a generating feelings happiness and wellbeing. Memories are tangible ways that can remind us that we’re loved, even when, later, things might not be so sunny.
During National Men’s Health Week, we take a moment to recognize ways that men can monitor and improve their health. After all – your good health isn’t just of benefit to you; it’s a gift to your friends and family, both now, and in years to come. And if you’re still looking for that perfect Father’s Day gift, consider a gift of exercise and health and buy the man in your life a few sessions with a Fitness Together trainer. They’ll learn and adopt healthy habits that can benefit them today, tomorrow, and for years to come.