There are many benefits to playing sports, from soccer to golf to cycling, gymnastics to swimming to ultimate Frisbee. Sports improve cardiovascular and muscular fitness, build bone and joint strength, and can even be a form of mental therapy. But it’s still important to take care of yourself and maintain your health while participating in these healthy activities.
Here are a few tips to keep you balanced and healthful:
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
Staying hydrated is imperative to staying healthy – your body depends on water to survive. And when it’s warm, your body perspires more to help you cool down. To keep your muscles working, prolong endurance and avoid fatigue, drink plenty of water before, during, and after activity.
Good old-fashioned H2O is truly the best for hydration, but if sports drinks or flavored waters are going to keep you sipping, drink up.
Watch Your Blood Sugar
Eating a light meal or a snack about an hour before your activity will keep your blood sugar levels even and help you maintain muscle function. The nutrients from your snack will help you perform better and keep hunger at bay. For the best results, combine healthy carbohydrates with protein and a small amount of fat. Yogurt, nuts, and granola bars are great examples, and many fruits are a source of both electrolytes and fluids.
A good warm-up will prepare your body for exercise, boosting your heart rate and circulation and loosening your joints. It will make your body warm because of the increased blood flow and oxygen to your muscles. Your warm-up should consist of light cardiovascular exercises that target the same muscles you’ll use during your sport or activity, and make you break out in a light sweat.
Stretching is just as important as regular exercise. It helps improve your flexibility and increases your range of motion. It increases blood and nutrient supplies to your muscles and reduces the risk of injury by gradually elongating your muscles. And stretching can calm your mind, giving your body a chance to recharge.
Adding a purposeful stretching routine to the end of your activities can reduce tension and put your muscles in a relaxed state.