What do you think of when you hear the term “sports fitness”? Do you see football players on the field, soccer players scuffling over a ball, a volleyball team at the beach, or a tennis match? There is a tendency to understand the term to mean the sport itself, rather than a way to stay fit.
People engage in sports for specific recreation-related reasons like entertainment, competition, or self-satisfaction. Because sports involve physical activity, most fitness experts and health care professionals know that sports are one way to stay fit and healthy. Sports fitness, as opposed to “exercise” or “physical fitness,” however, involves developing a skill or ability. Sports fitness is an opportunity for personal growth.
Sports enthusiasts may be more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle (although some would question that assertion) because of the inherent discipline and physical demands. But sports fitness can also mean weight loss, better mobility, greater energy, and a host of the things we use to describe good health. Sports fitness is a character-building pursuit.
Sports do teach people to value their health. Without health, they couldn’t maintain the energy and vitality necessary to participate. Especially if they are in professional sports, their livelihood may depend on their fitness and health. Sports fitness is a lifestyle.
Let’s assume, for a minute, that you are a person who needs more exercise to get or stay physically fit and healthy. You have many options: gyms, health centers, home exercise. You can do aerobic exercise routines, undertake a weight training program, or spend hours on an exercise bike or treadmill. Those are all beneficial activities. But some of us find them boring. We won’t stick to them because we’re not having fun. Sports fitness is fun!
One way to get healthy and have fun at the same time is to pursue sports fitness. You can get your workout on the basketball court or baseball field. You can enter swimming competitions or run marathons. These exercise routines involve other people, interaction, and FUN! So, let’s say you’ve decided to get your exercise through sports fitness.
There are some things you should know about things you can do to assure sports fitness is a safe, healthy program for you:
1. Get a Lot of Fluids
We can go days, even months, without food. But we can’t live without frequent drinking water. It’s the most important nutrient we’ll ever consume. And when you’re engaged in sports, you perspire more, losing that precious liquid gold. If you lose too many fluids without replacing them, you could have very serious health problems. In the extreme, you could die.
So when you’re engaged in strenuous exercise, you should always drink water to replace what you’re losing through sweat. Some sports involve losing fluids so rapidly that it would not be possible to replace them with water alone. Drinking too much plain water at once can lead to a toxic reaction (water intoxication) due to an unhealthy balance of electrolytes in the body. To avoid dehydration and water intoxication while playing sports, experts recommend sports drinks. They come in three categories.
Isotonic sports drinks contain a similar balance of water and other nutrients as in the human body, including 6-8% sugar. Hypertonic sports drinks contain less water and more sugar than the human body. Hypotonic sports drinks contain more water and less sugar than the human body. Most of the sports drinks on the market are isotonic.
No matter which you choose, sports drinks have two important ingredients you won’t find in plain water: carbohydrates and electrolytes. Carbohydrates help keep energy levels up, and a proper balance of electrolytes (made up of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate, and hydrogen carbonate) is essential to well-being. Drinking a lot of fluids is essential for sports fitness.
2. Eat more Fruits and Vegetables
The strenuous exercise involved in sports rapidly depletes the body of essential vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables contain essential nutrients. When you’re engaged in a sports fitness program, make it a habit every day to eat a dark green vegetable, a yellow or orange fruit or vegetable, red fruit or vegetable, beans or nuts, and citrus fruit like oranges. Sports fitness involves a healthy, balanced diet.
3. Protect your Bones
People involved in sports fitness are at a higher risk of injuries, including broken bones. The more you can do to keep your bones strong, the better off you will be. Be sure your diet includes calcium sources like sardines, tofu, and dairy products, etc. You might also consider adding a calcium supplement to your daily routine. Not only will your bones withstand the bumps and crashes you get on the court or field, but you’ll also be getting a head start in fending off the dreaded osteoporosis.
4. Warm Up and Cool Down
You may strain a muscle or fall prey to another type of injury if you’re body isn’t loose and limber when you start playing any kind of rigorous sport. Like runners, stretching routines are a great way to get limber. And more active warm-ups get your heart rate going gradually.
After the game is over, don’t go straight to the clubhouse or bar. Do a few cool-down exercises to gradually release tension and transition to less activity. You have fewer sore muscles and less tightness if you do. Sports fitness involves responsible preparation and follow-through.
Participating in sports is a great way to get and stay physically fit and to have an active, interesting social life. Sports fitness allows you to meet more active people interested in health and fitness who can help you stay motivated and involved. The best thing about sports fitness is that you get a great workout while you’re having a great time. It’s the best of both worlds!
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