My dad and I are both former pro athletes. At 66, he can still outrun me — here are his tips for living a long and healthy life.

May 29, 2024Community, Guidance

I’m 43. My dad is 66. We’re both former professional soccer players, and I’ve had the privilege to call him my training partner since I was about 5 years old.

Over the years, what started as kicking the ball around in our backyard slowly evolved into track workouts and trail runs. I’ve loved every minute and have never managed to cross the finish line before him.

I guess I always assumed that as an elite athlete, I would, at some point, be able to beat my Scottish dad around the track or up a hill. I was wrong.

As we’ve both gotten older, my fitness levels have gone through many ups and downs. However, Dad hasn’t missed a beat. These are his lifestyle tips to stay happy, healthy, and fit.

He starts the morning with movement

While I wake up and go straight for the coffee pot, my dad does not. Before any morning indulgence, he does 50 push-ups and 50 sit-ups. Yes — every single weekday morning. Sure, it might not sound like the most appealing way to wake up, but he says it takes less than five minutes and is a nice, energizing way to start the day.

A push-up works many muscle groups, including those in the arms and legs. And sit-ups strengthen your core, which can improve stability. Both exercises are likely to contribute to overall athletic performance. Plus, you don’t need fancy equipment or an expensive gym membership for these classic moves.

He continues moving throughout the day

Dad commits to five days of aerobic activity a week, mostly running and only on soft surfaces, like a track or a dirt trail.

“Softer surfaces are kinder on the body and better for longevity,” he said.

When running on the track or trails, he doesn’t feel any pain in his knees. The repetition of pounding on pavement often leaves his body hurting.

As a bonus, moving on varied terrain, especially dirt trails, makes a runner switch strides, directions, and speeds. Using different muscles to move forward likely improves muscular strength, balance, and overall fitness levels.

He finds value in community and makes movement a social activity

Most likely stemming from a background in team sports, Dad loves working out with others. On top of running with me, he has a community of fellow runners, bike riders, and hikers with whom he exercises once a week. They’ve become his friends.

He loves the camaraderie and believes his performance increases around other people.

“I probably push myself a little bit further if I’m running with a group,” he said.

Whether Dad and his friends tackle a long trail or a tall mountain, they always celebrate their hard work with pizza and beer, which brings me to Dad’s next lifestyle tip.

Dad enjoys everything in moderation

Dad doesn’t forgo the simple joys in life, but he doesn’t overdo it. He quite enjoys a beer with friends (I did mention he’s Scottish, right?), and he rarely turns down a bar of chocolate.

However, he balances his favorite things by living a generally healthy lifestyle. He always eats enough to build muscle and stay satisfied, and Dad enjoys most cuisines, saying Italian and Mexican are favorites. He avoids processed foods, mostly because he doesn’t think they taste very good.

Look forward, not backward

My high-school cross-country coach told me never to look back while running. It might slow down your pace. Dad feels the same way but also incorporates this tip into life off the track. The future is exciting. You never know what’s right around the corner. If you start thinking about everything you did in the past, you have to carry all that baggage around with you.

Dad’s advice? Try to be the best you can be, look forward, and just enjoy yourself.

Don’t stress over the little things

Research indicates cumulative stress can accelerate aging, so it’s best not to sweat the small things. Life is full of ups and downs and twists and turns. Yes, there’s plenty to worry about. But maybe you don’t have to worry about everything.

“Whatever you’re worried about today, write it down,” he said. “In a month or so, you might find that many of your small worries were insignificant.”

In a nutshell, have fun with movement, eat the chocolate bar, and focus on a bright future. It might just make you faster.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2021.