Grandparents are the best; they let you eat ice cream for breakfast and pancakes and bacon for dinner. They always have the best arts and crafts projects. They teach you how to play gin rummy – and let you win.
Any six-year-old will tell you that every day is Grandparents Day, but according to the calendar, the official National Grandparents Day takes place each year on the first Sunday following Labor Day. It’s a day dedicated to honoring the special seniors in our lives; the ones who tickled our backs for hours and let us watch TV until we fell asleep and smiled as we traced our fingers along the veins in their hands.
Grandparents have special health needs: They’re more prone to diseases of aging, such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis and obesity. But when researchers study healthy aging adults, they find a few common practices. Why not share these ideas with the grandparent in your life, to help ensure they’re around for many more years of popsicles, cartoons and gin rummy?
People who live the longest tend to:
- Eat lots of vegetables, beans, nuts and fish
- Get plenty daily physical activity (this doesn’t have to be treadmill- or elliptical-based – it simply means they have an active lifestyle that promotes lots of moving around)
- Are close with their friends and family – social connections are key to longevity
- They volunteer or are active in philanthropy
- Their life has a sense of purpose, which buffers against illness and is correlated with a reduced risk of all sorts of disease
- They don’t stress too much
Read more about the secrets of centenarians at BlueZones.com
If you’re a grandparent yourself, use this day as an opportunity to spend time with your grandchildren and do something fun…and healthy! A few ideas to inspire you, inspired by grandparents.com:
Plant some vegetables or flowers in your garden. Get kid-size tools and let your grandchildren get dirty.
Take a walk around your neighborhood, gathering interesting stones and leaves as you go. Use them to create artwork when you return home.
Stare up at the clouds, creating stories about what you see.
Tour your local firehouse. Call ahead to schedule an appointment and ask if your grandchild will be allowed to climb on a fire truck or sit inside and steer.
Plan a picnic, even if it’s in your backyard. Don’t forget the Frisbee!
Build sand castles and mud pies at the beach.
Wash your car together.
Ride your bikes around your neighborhood. Bonus points if you can rent a bicycle built for two!