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How to Stay Healthy During Spring Sports

Katie Jones, Reporter

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Spring sports are all fun and games, until someone gets sick or injured.

Following a few simple guidelines is far more worth the slight discomfort and change than sitting out. This includes a healthy diet, proper warm-up and cool-down, and enough sleep. Just because spring sports have started, does not mean that the temperatures are what we are hoping they will be. The cold and rainy weather can make less than desirable conditions for practice and games.

Healthy Eating

Though there are many important aspects of staying healthy, having a balanced diet is the base for success. Choosemyplate.gov explains that daily intake of food should be divided into five different groups. The five different groups include, fruit, grains, vegetables, protein, and dairy.

Choosemyplate.gov recommends these food group proportions when it comes to daily intake. The plate was created by the USDA as a reference for the average person.

When it comes to the correct foods to eat when working out, there are a few specifics to keep in mind so you can get every benefit possible. It is recommended by healthline.com that you eat a balanced meal 2-3 hours before the workout consisting of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. In the case that a meal is unable to be fit in, eat easily digestible foods such as carbs and protein in small amounts.

After a workout, it is especially important to eat because the muscles are deprived of glycogen and protein. In order to prevent soreness, and enhance quick recovery, healthline.com suggests protein for muscle repair and growth, and carbohydrates for basic glycogen replacement. Popular post workout snacks include whole wheat bread with peanut butter and bananas, fruit and smoothies with protein powder, and egg whites along with veggies.

Warming up and Cooling Down

Both warming up and cooling down are absolutely necessary to prevent injuries. In the cold weather, it can be nearly impossible to keep your muscles warm, but warming up and cooling down drastically decrease the likelihood of injuries.

Before performing any type of activity, especially a rigorous one, it is very important to warm up. The point of warming up is to lightly increase the body’s heart rate, circulation, and temperature.

When warming up, healthyforgood.org recommends warming up for at least 5-10 minutes. If the workout is more intense, warm up for a longer amount of time. Warming up includes stretching big muscle groups and muscle groups specific to the activity. Depending on the activity, you are planning on performing, do the activity at a slower pace. For example, before an intense track workout, jog for several minutes at a slow speed. It is very important to warm up every part of the body.

After a long workout sometimes the last thing you want to do is exert more energy, but cooling down is just as important as warming up. Healthyforgood.org also recommends several tips when cooling down. Do any sort of physical activity, such as walking, that will lower your heart rate to less than 120 bpm. After lowering your heart rate, stretch as long as needed without overstretching. Be sure to stretch both sides of the body evenly. Lastly, do not forget to breathe. Be sure to inhale and exhale evenly, through the nose and out through the mouth, allowing your body to slowly relax.

After working out, lactic acid builds up, leading to soreness in the muscles. Cooling down helps to reduce the amount of lactic acid, leaving the body less sore. Because the body will be less sore, it will be more pleasurable to workout the following days.

The team above above warms up before a sporting event. Jogging before the game or match allows the heart rate to increase and the body to be warm. (Chuck Allen/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sleep

Sleep is often overlooked when it comes to teenagers. With activity-filled schedules, it can be difficult to balance school, extracurriculars, and sleep. Unfortunately, sleep is usually the one to be sacrificed.

Sleepfoundation.org stresses the fact that teens should get 8-10 hours of sleep each night. With this amount of sleep, it allows our bodies to stay more alert and make better decisions. Sleep will also affect the performance of the athlete, such as speed, accuracy, and reaction time.

Easy tips for trying to fit in more sleep is to be productive. Finish homework efficiently without distraction so that there is more time to sleep. The Sleepfoundation.org also recommends napping in moderation. Sometimes a 30 minute nap before working out can be refreshing, but overdoing it can make it too difficult to fall asleep at night.

Have Fun

The majority of athletes will not continue their athletic career beyond their high school years, so it is important to not get too caught up in all the stress that comes along with sports. Sports are meant to be enjoyable, not a source of frustration.

In the situation that sports become more stressful than fun, it may be time to try something else out or take the level of intensity down a few notches. Kidshealth.org mentions the importance of having a specific endpoint to the pressure from athletics. Sometimes pressure can be a good thing in the way that it allows for quality preparation and focus, however if it never ends it can be exhausting on the body.

Though there are many techniques to decreasing stress, a few include building in time to rest, and being less self critical. It is important to be well rounded and not focus on just one activity. Give yourself time to have fun with friends or take time to simply stay home and relax. On the emotional side of things, constantly worrying about being perfect can be exhausting. Be easier on yourself by taking mess-ups as learning experiences, and talk to coaches about ways to fix the perfectionist mindset.

Ben Broussard high fives fans at a game. Enjoyable activities, such as meeting those with the same passion as you, can keep the sport enjoyable and exciting. (Minda Haas Kuhlmann/CC by 2.0)

The tips listed above seem simple, but it can be hard to get into the groove of a new routine or to adopt new habits. With persistent dedication and hard work, these suggestions can easily be implemented into one’s life to create optimal success for the spring season.

About the Writer
Katie Jones, Reporter
Katie Jones is a reporter for the Broadcaster. She is a sophomore at Hershey High School and a first year member of the Broadcaster staff. Katie also enjoys running, art, and sitting with her dog to watch crime shows. Recommend0 Useful0 Enable Javascript to click a buttonMost Recommended Posts Five tips for teens to slay Black...
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How to Stay Healthy During Spring Sports