Fathers get a lot of flack for being lazy, couch-dwelling beer guzzlers, but the truth is that dear old dad is very often the family instigator of physical pursuits. That's certainly the case for many of the progenitors of Team Healthy Living. Associate Editor Sarah Klein wrote of her soccer dad, "Whether he meant to or not, Dad instilled in us a lifelong love of using our bodies and a deep appreciation for all that they can do."
And Nutrition and Fitness Editor Meredith Melnick found that, through sport, her father imparted far-reaching lessons about how to approach any challenge. "If it weren't for my dad's weekend gig as my coach, would I try new things? Would I meet a challenge with as much enthusiasm? I suspect I would not. And that has been his immense gift to me," she wrote.
And because we shared our stories, you began to share yours: fathers who ran 10ks with you, who helped you train for triathlons, or cheered you on as you reached a new fitness goal. And truly, is there any greater demonstration of uniquely prideful fatherly love than seeing your dad on the sidelines, camcorder in hand?
Have a look and keep the stories coming in the comments below.
Physical fitness has always been of great importance to my dad and has influenced me in so many ways. While in the Navy, my dad was on the U.S Navy fast pitch softball team, and even after he married my mom he still continued to play fast pitch softball in different city leagues. <br><br> As a boy I was amazed watching him at the plate batting and scoring runs. My dad is in his late 70s and he still continues to amaze and influence me. He had a triple bypass about eight months ago and after a couple of months of recovery he still leads a active lifestyle. He and my mom attend the gym at least three or four times a week. I figure if he can do that so can I. I am in my late 40s and I also find myself at the gym at least three or four times a week now. Sometimes I find myself on the treadmill right next to him. What a great influence I have!
My dad always makes me work out with him on family vacations. I like to run, but he is a huge stair-stepper fanatic. My dad also helped me stay on track so I was fit for my wedding.
Jenna Autuori, Fitness Editor, Fitness magazine
My dad was such a <em>huge</em> influence on my athleticism growing up. It all started when I wanted to do whatever my older brother was doing. When he took up martial arts and as I anxiously watched his every practice from the lobby my dad encouraged me to sign up too. I was the only girl in this martial arts studio for almost 10 years. I competed with the guys and won trophies at regional competitions. Without my dad telling me I'm "tough" enough and I can do anything I put my mind to I wouldn't have thought this sport would be for me. <br> <br> As I got older and entered junior high and high school, I also played lacrosse and ran cross country. My dad was there every step of the way too. I always knew that this was the bond that my dad and I shared and that seeing me out there made him so proud. After hours of after-school practice, he picked me up every day, dropped me off for my Saturday morning sessions and never missed a game, no matter home or away. When I scored goals in a lacrosse match he was the first person I high-fived on the sideline. Besides playing sports, my dad was an avid exerciser and everyday as he got home from work and hit our home mini-gym everyday, I would tag along too. He would teach me how to use dumbbells, do pushups and do 100 crunches at a time.<br> <br> Fitness took a backseat when I was enrolled in college and I knew this was something that probably disappointed my dad, but looking back now perhaps having him around was my biggest motivation to be as fit and strong as I can be. After moving into the city on my own, I decided to sign up for an Olympic distance triathlon because I missed the life of training and wanted to get back in to the "game". My dad was the first person I called to tell my exciting news. Even though his response was laughable, "You hate open water and you're petrified of the thought of sharks", we laughed together and I told him I'd wing it and just push that though out of my mind until race day. He was my biggest supporter as I took on this new--and some thought crazy--goal. But my dad was my biggest fan, bought me my first racing bike and on race day, hugging him before I hit the Hudson water for my swim was all the encouragement I needed. It was an emotional day but knowing he was there watching me succeed kept me going. I've since done three triathlons and doing my fourth next month in the Hudson again, with my dad cheering me on. <br> <br> My dad has been there for every race, competition and sport I tried and I know I owe my entire love for being active to him. As a fitness editor I research, test and write about all the new workouts and give readers advice and tips for staying fit. However, my dad has been my biggest inspiration and helped shape me to be who I am today. I owe everything to my dad and I am so proud he taught me and encouraged me to be a strong, dedicated athlete. <br> <br>
My Dad didn't allow us to eat candies or drink sodas when we were kids. Because of that my siblings and I all have great sets of teeth.
As a child I remember how important health was to my father, Robert (Butch) Scully. He returned from the Vietnam War, serving two years, carrying two Purple Hearts and several scars. Not just physical but emotional. <br><br> I was born a few years later and became his hiking, fishing, swimming, football, biking, camping, boating and you name it sports buddy. I was not only his "princess," I was his little athlete. For my entire life -- 40 years -- he has continued a healthy living lifestyle. A vegetarian, gym-going active man, he is now 63. Dad has not only taught me that health and exercise are good for your body, but he also instilled a "Nobody is Perfect" attitude and the understanding that "We can't change the past. We can only remain strong and move forward." I carry these thoughts with me every day as I raise my two young boys and train my clients. <br><br> I am currently a fitness instructor/wellness coach seeking a certification to teach yoga. I definitely feel his influence helped move me in this direction and I'm very grateful and proud he is my father. <br><br> On a side note, a few years ago, my father was bit by something while gardening in his backyard in NJ. The doctors are still not sure what caused it, but he ended up going into toxic shock. It was touch and go, for what seemed the longest week of my life, as I watched one kidney failing and his heart needing to be shocked. The doctors all told us that if he hadn't been in the health he was at the time he got sick, he probably wouldn't have been able to fight off the infection. <br><br> After that experience, I began reading more on nutrition and holistic health. I now coach and advise in those fields, as well as practice them in my home with my children. Fortunately, he made a full recovery and continues to live a happy and healthy life closing in on retirement.
In grammar school, my dad got up at 5:00 a.m. every day with me to help me train for my cross country races.
The breeze of the summer days never felt as wonderful as they did at the park during the good old days of my youth. It feels as though it happened decades ago, yet I can vividly sense it all as though I were right there, right now. It was just Daddy and me, at the park walking around, listening to his stories as I searched for the rabbits and squirrels. <br><br> Everything amazed me at that age. I was around 10 years old or so, and I thought my dad was the handsomest man alive. I did not ask for much, just to spend some time with him, and to hear his stories and the answers to my many questions. <br><br> He would randomly chase me and I would try to sprint as fast as I could to try to beat him. We would walk by the bike route and let the sun be our clock -- when the sunset became vivid, it was our cue to head home. As the years went by, my dad found a second job to make ends meet and the time we spend together became limited. But my dad is a truly wonderful man who works in the rain, even when he has a migraine. <br><br> The time he has free though, he uses to spend time with us -- my mom, my sister and me. I still remember looking for him out the window, asking my mom when he would be back from work, tears rolling down my face. I still run to him when he gets home from work and I do not sleep until he arrives safe and sound. I would give anything to have my childhood years back because he made those the most wonderful years of my life.
Jacqueline Howard, Associate Science Editor, Huffington Post
When I ran track in high school he would train with me sometimes, even after my team practiced, because he always encouraged me "to go beyond what's expected of you!"
Brooke Hugron, @brookiehugs
I've run three half marathons with my dad and even crossed the finish line together hand-in-hand on one.
Maria Mooney, @happyhealing44
My dad was a marathon runner and still runs daily at 60 years old. No surprise I love the sport!
Henrique Autran, Herbalife International
My father started running when he was 30. He quit smoking and began to invest himself in a healthy lifestyle. I was two years old when he started. When I was 10, I began to run with him and practice karate. <br><br> He has always invested in our (my sister and brother and me) so we can have a healthy lifestyle. Today, he is 72 (and still running, although not as much as before) and I am 37. I'm practicing running and lifting weights. It is a great honor to be my father's son and share with you our love for a healthy lifestyle!
My Dad raised me since I was 2 1/2 and started off our relationship with a promise. During the wedding to my Mom he presented her with a ring but he also presented me with my own ring. He gave me a small gold band which I'm told was his promise to me that he would be there for me and be the best Dad he could be to me. (Who does that?!) Little did I know that this man would be my biggest supporter in life. <br><br> I could not have been blessed with a better person to call Dad. Throughout my life he has always been there for my mom, sister and I. He would give us sound advice, surprise us with flowers every now and then, write us long letters of wisdom/love on our birthdays and would always live by example and teach us how a man should act. He also took me to my first concert when all of my friends weren't able to go. His character goes well beyond my family though ... everyone who knows him loves him. He is the kind of person you always want around. He's funny, witty, honest, trustworthy and charismatic. He even brings his dry cleaning lady little loving gifts just to show her she is appreciated. <br><br> While he has not had an easy road in the healthy living department due to heart issues (he's a meat eating midwest boy after all), he is doing well and my family is always finding funny ways of sneaking spinach into his meals. I trust my Dad to always lead me in the right direction and I always strive to make him proud. He and my Mom have the best relationship I've ever seen and I hope to marry a man like him.
My father, Dr. Robert C. Day, survived many medical complications. He is a walking miracle in medical history. The doctors say the reason he has survived all of these close calls is because he has always been in such amazing physical condition. Despite being unable to feel much more than chronic pain on the right side of his body, he goes to the gym almost every day and intimidates every one on the basketball court with his perfect swooshes. I'm so proud to be his daughter.