Is Having a Dad Bod Healthy or Just Trendy?

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The new pop trend for middle-aged fathers is embracing a softer body type known as the Dad bod. You may have seen men, including celebrities, sporting Dad bod selfies on social media. There’s also a bit of blowback from fit Dads showing off their version of a Dad bod.

The Dad bod has certainly become somewhat controversial—accepted by some and frowned on by others. The term has caused a bit of confusion about what is considered a healthy body for men, especially in a society obsessed with being lean and having sculpted abs.

Could a softer look for men be the new way to balance workouts and workloads? It appears to be growing in popularity because it promotes a more relaxed lifestyle and body. However, it may be encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle and increased risk for disease and illness.

There are a few questions about the Dad bod trend that have surfaced. They include:

  • Is a Dad bod healthy?
  • Does it promote positivity?
  • Is it body shaming?
  • Should a father no longer worry about maintaining his body?
  • What’s the difference between a Dad bod and a fit bod?

What Is a Dad Bod?

"Dad bod" is a popular slang term referring to the less fit body type of middle-aged fathers.

The Urban Dictionary defines the Dad bod as softly round and built for comfort. The theory is based upon the belief that once a man becomes a husband and father, he doesn’t have to worry about taking care of his body as much.

The Dad bod is said to be a cross between being muscular and overweight—men are hitting the gym occasionally during the week and enjoying a few beers on the weekend.

Although having a Dad bod appears to be a popular trend, it may not be the best health choice.

Are Dad Bods Healthy?

A man with a Dad bod is slightly overweight, without a sculpted frame. In order to know if this body type is healthy or unhealthy, body fat percentage calculations and Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements are recommended.

Body fat percentage calculations would be the most accurate indicators for being overweight. According to the American Council on Exercise, acceptable levels of body fat for men range between 18 to 24 percent. Body fat percent levels over 25 percent represent obesity.

Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements use your height and weight to calculate an estimate for overweight or obesity. According to the National Institutes of Health, a normal BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9. Measurements over 25 indicate being overweight, and 30 and above represent obesity.

Maintaining a Dad bod in the normal clinical ranges for body fat would be healthy, but anything above those levels increases your risk for heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and other related illness.

Some health professionals feel having a Dad bod may not be the healthiest body type because it includes more fat around the abdominal area. Research indicates increased abdominal fat can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

Male Positivity

Men can struggle with body image and have insecurities about the way they look. The positive attention from the Dad bod trend appears to have boosted a positive self-image for men.

Society accepting a softer male physique has given a large percentage of the male population an attainable fitness goal. Men are feeling better physically and emotionally, not under pressure to have the perfect muscular build or ripped abs.

The Dad bod is accepted by both men and women as healthy and attractive. It has caused a positive shift toward male self-image and visual standards set by society.

Ways to Improve

Having a Dad bod may mean a softer look and better positive image, but it also should include taking care of your health.

The following tips will help improve your Dad bod and help maintain normal body fat levels while enjoying a healthy lifestyle:

  • Avoid junk food and processed food products
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Enjoy more fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise for fun and stress relief
  • Exercise at least 3 days per week (keep it fun)
  • Moderation is key
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Make small healthy changes
  • Increase your water intake
  • Get plenty of sleep

A Word From Verywell

The Dad bod is a new softer look for men shifting social norms away from body perfection and towards positive self-image. The less-fit body trend for men may be considered positive and healthy if implemented the right way. Achieving a Dad bod is accomplished in moderation and through progressive positive changes. You are still living a healthy lifestyle, just being a little more relaxed.

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