A dad holding his young son in the kitchen as he looks through cabinets

Family Health

Taking Care of Dad’s Body After Baby

Mar 9, 2017

An executive, a programmer and a copywriter walk into a gym. The executive approaches the saleswoman and says—

Sorry, there's no punchline. What sounds like the start of a bad joke is, in fact, the dawn of my revelation about men's health. You see, an executive, a programmer and a copywriter really did walk into the gym. Each gentleman spoke with me about his lifestyle and goals. The three men — all middle-aged fathers of young children — expressed similar sentiments that goaded the question: who's taking care of dad's body after baby?

Their deliveries varied, but the script was more or less the same. "I'm 40. I sit at a desk all day. I have two children under five and no spare time. I'm not trying to be an athlete or a bodybuilder. I just want to keep up with my kids and play hockey once a week without being in pain."


"Ya, you know. I'm a bit tight, I get sore now." [Unconsciously rubs shoulder with mild grimace.]

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Sore shoulders, back ache, knee pain, fatigue — these were the same complaints my 43-year-old husband stubbornly tolerated for years. They're the same complaints many middle-aged fathers live with.

Of course, a man's body doesn't transform with the bearing and birthing of a child as a woman's does. So this 'dad bod syndrome' is not the result of having children so much as it is the consequence of simultaneous aging, parenting and lifestyle changes.

Middle age has a way of sneaking up and slapping us with a physiological reality check. I suspect many men cruise their 30s without incident. Then boom. One day they're 40 and those extra shots start hurting a whole lot more the next day — and the next.

This 'dad bod syndrome' is not the result of having children so much as it is the consequence of simultaneous aging, parenting and lifestyle changes.

Meanwhile, he's had a child or two and life is different. His physical routine now includes carrying children, lifting gear and assembling everything from doll houses to cribs from awkward positions on the floor. Combine that with lack of sleep (because kids), lack of mobility (because desk job) and high stress (because life), and you've set the stage for a broken dad bod.

The executive, the programmer, the copywriter, my husband: none of them intended to age ungracefully. They just didn't see it coming. Where are the bestselling health books illustrating how dad's body will change with kids? Who's showing fathers how to lift their sons from the lowest level of the crib with proper form? Do they know they need strong glute and core muscles to counteract hours of sitting? Who's designing the full-body strength and mobility workout that pops can fit in during lunch? Perhaps this information is all thoughtfully laid out in a men's fitness magazine but I can tell you, my husband isn't buying it.

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Thankfully, I'm in a position to help my guy. I encourage foam roller exercises at home, and I've referred him to chiropractic care when needed. We've even done a few yoga classes together. Likewise, the executive, programmer and copywriter have found relief through different disciplines including individualized personal training, pilates classes and regular massage treatments.

So, no, the dad bod isn't necessarily about maintaining a sculpted physique. But it's not about accepting 40 as the new 60 either. It's about having a strong, healthy body that can keep up with life's daily demands without the grimace.

Know a dad with the same story? Consider booking a chiropractic or physiotherapy assessment. Once any underlying issues are identified and treated, he'll be in a much better position to improve overall fitness and start smiling again.

Article Author Debbie King
Debbie King

Read more from Debbie here.

Debbie King (aka SUPAFITMAMA) is a Toronto-based masters athlete, influencer, freelance writer, wife and mother of one. At age 42, she is training toward her goal of becoming a 2020 World Masters Athletics track and field champion. In her work as a writer and influencer, Debbie creates powerful content and connections in female fitness, sport, wellness and culture. Body positivity, inclusion and representation are strong themes throughout. As a regular contributor for CBC Parents, she explores a range of healthy living topics for individuals and Canadian families. Follow her journey at supafitmama.com and on Instagram and Twitter.