The late and great Muhammad Ali once said, ‘Sportsmen and champions are not made in the gyms. They are simply made from something deep down inside them—a dream, a desire, a vision.’
Sportsmen or athletes are people who compete in one or more sports that involve physical strength, speed and endurance. Apart from being physically capable, sportsmen need to be mentally fit and healthy too. Being an athlete requires team spirit, fighting spirit, mental toughness and positive thinking amongst others. Along with their qualities, their habits also have an impact on their overall fitness. For example, a person who is always on the go and restless by nature will always be fitter than others.
Here are seven habits that every sportsman should adopt to stay fit and healthy:
Flexibility and Mobility
In sports, especially during a competition or tournament, it is vital to have a high level of movement and flexibility to perform at the optimum level and reduce rick of injuries. The off-season for sportsmen is an ideal time to develop mobility in the joints and improve flexibility in major muscle areas. In order to perform your best, it’s ideal to spend at least 15 to 30 minutes every day on stretching exercises. This practice improves your performance and reduces the chances of injury. Its even better to introduce yourself to dynamic stretching as well as or band-assisted static stretching.
In order to perform well, nutrition plays a significant role and it is arguably the most important aspect of a sportsman’s training program for staying fit and healthy. Eating foods that are high in nutritional values at the right times will improve a sportsman’s ability to perform at a high level, recover, and heal. Sportsmen should concentrate on consuming sufficient protein and nutrients to achieve their goals of weight loss/gain or general weight maintenance in proportion to their energy expenditure in training.
Strengthening Weak Links
To strengthen the weak parts of their body, sportsmen should take time to work on these areas, in the off-season.
This can help them improve performance and prevent potential injuries during competition or in-season. Common weak links might include the forearms, rotator cuff, ankle, or neck. A sportsman should focus on performing exercises which help in strengthening the weak links. Such a practice will improve their performance and correct potential bad habits.
Smart players focus on the most pressing and sensitive areas for their sport; for example, boxers and wrestlers should engage in exercises like neck flexing for better stability in the neck. Other examples might include basketball players doing ankle exercises, or baseball players strengthening their rotator cuff.
There is general notion that you are not considered healthy unless you sleep the appropriate hours a day.
Lack of sleep or deprivation does nobody any good. Sound sleep is a vital process in helping your body recover, and developing proper sleep habits is crucial for sportsmen to recover and perform at a high level consistently.
Being a sportsman, you should focus on getting a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep and waking up at the same time every day. Apart from that, a sportsman should work on techniques and habits to reduce anxiety or stress before sleep to improve sleep quality, especially prior to tournament or in-season.
Staying focused to a regular workout routine can make or break a sportsman. Here consistency decides a sportsman’s fate. A sportsman must develop a regular workout schedule to form unbreakable habits and also to remain on track even if the program’s novelty fades. Regardless of whether you get your workout before dawn, during your lunch break or after you clock out of work, consistency is key in the entire process.
Similarly, your fitness goals may be something personal to you, but that doesn’t restrict you to achieve those goals and targets alone. Working out with a friend or a pool of motivated and like-minded people means you’re likely to meet your fitness goals. Besides from increasing your motivation to lift, run, or exercise harder, being part of fitness team will likely:
- Help you stay committed to your gym schedule
- Make practice and workouts more enjoyable
- Give you someone to celebrate with when you reach your preset goals and targets.
Stay active outside gym too
While sportsmen mostly make it a priority to get in scheduled exercise on a daily basis, they don’t restrict exercise solely to the gym. They expand the area of activities and do all they can do stay active outside of their workouts as well. Here are a few ways you can adopt to stay fit and healthy outside gym:
- Walk wherever and whenever possible.
- Go for active weekend activities like bike rides, hikes, or any other activity you like.
- Take the stairs. Always.
- Choose active vacations. Hiking, kayaking, skiing, swimming, biking, yoga retreats… there are so many possibilities!
- Get on your heels and move whenever you can. Sitting is bad for you. Move often.
At times, sportsmen make excuses and sometimes break their own rules. A successful sportsman sets boundaries that are absolutely firm and non-negotiable. Just a slice of chocolate cake, when you are preparing for tournament or in-season, can ruin your off-season practice. For example, a piece of cake can add 20 grams of body weight, which may be too high for you to compete for wrestling weight class. Learn to focus and don’t stray away from why you’re doing this.