Fall has arrived in the Northern latitudes. The days are getting shorter, the gardens are about done for the year, the kids are back I school, the leaves are turning color and starting to drop. Many are putting away the camping gear, the boat, the bikes and all things summer. Fall can be a wonderful time of year. There are a host of activities and school sporting events that have been on vacation for the summer. And with the cooler temperatures and crisp nights come thoughts of sitting in front of a fireplace or snuggled up with your favorite blanket and a hot cup of tea or cocoa. Fall is also the time of year that many tend to put away the running shoes, tennis rackets, bats and balls and so many more of the things that kept us healthy and fit by keeping us outdoors and active all summer long.
Now there is a shift in the “activities” that many participate in. The new fall TV shows are rolling out, the football season has started and the baseball season is closing in on the playoffs. Before we know it, the basketball season has started and the football season is closing in on the playoffs. Then in a blink of an eye, winter is here. All during this season of “activity” many that were out playing golf, tennis, fishing, water skiing, camping or just working in the yard, are, in reality, not very active at all. It is this time of year that along with this shift in “activity”, thoughts of staying healthy and fit are put away as well.
This is the time of year when the game day get togethers and feasts are at their full glory. This may sound like a great way to spend a weekend and I will admit that I have had the occasional weekend of TV and snacks, but for some this pattern has become more than an occasional event. Now you can, as the advertisements say, “get all the games” for a modest additional cost to you cable or satellite bill. Now instead of watching your team, you are watching every team. Instead of spending 2 hours with the game and your buddies, you are spending the whole day watching the games. While you are watching the games, there is a seemingly never ending supply of snacks or “game day foods”. Before you know it, spring is here with summer close on its heal. You have had a great season of activity but for some reason, your pants are a bit, or in some cases, a lot tighter. How can this be? We have been active all fall and winter. There is the usual finger pointing at the holiday season and it’s true that many gain a few pounds around the holidays. But this can’t explain the several pounds that were gained.
Now the desire to get healthy and fit comes out of storage and there is the flood of memberships to health clubs and gyms. The all too common spring diet season kicks in to full gear and the cycle starts all over again. Wouldn’t it just be easier to stay healthy and fit all year long rather than gaining and losing the seasonal weight?
Think of it this way. What do you think your favorite quarterback of linebacker does in the off season? Do they sit and watch fishing and golf on TV? Do they get together with their buddies every weekend for a game day feast while watching whatever game may be on TV? Or, are they doing what they know they need to do to stay healthy and fit by working out and staying truly active? Granted the level of training may not be as intense as when they are going through their final preparation just before the season starts but they stay healthy and fit all year long. Doesn’t this make sense for us as well?
It isn’t hard to stay healthy and fit all year long. It just takes a little bit of discipline. Just like it takes discipline for a tight end to run every day during the off season. I can already hear the comments “but that’s how they make their living” or “that’s what they are supposed to do if they want to make the team next year”. What’s my response to these comments? “That’s how you stay alive for your family”. “That’s what you need to do if you want to see your son make the little league team next year”.
This may sound extreme but I did it on purpose to make a point. By riding the up and down cycle of weight gain and loss and being active all spring and summer and sitting during the fall and winter, you put more stress on your heart and other organs. The constant gain and loss of cardiovascular fitness compounds and before you know what has happened; you are having trouble catching your breath on the back nine. Now I can hear some saying “well it hasn’t happened yet”. Believe me, it will. I have been there. It took several years of the cycle, but it did happen. Before I knew it, I was wearing a pant size that I thought I would never see. My weight was the same as previous years but things had changed. And it wasn’t a change for the better. Fortunately for me, I have a wife that decided that “we” needed to get in better shape and I was able to stop the cycle before I did irrevocable damage to my body.
It doesn’t take a fitness regime like those used by professional athletes to stay healthy and fit during the off season. There are many ways to keep yourself in shape for your favorite spring and summer activities. Some take only a few minutes a day. Many can be done in your own home with little or no equipment. All it takes from you is a little discipline and a few (or in some cases a lot) less game day feasts.
So let’s enjoy this seasons games while, taking our queue from our favorite athlete, and stay healthy and fit in out off season.