DALLAS, Jan 26 – For millions of Americans, Super Bowl Sunday has become a national holiday. Throughout the country, elaborate parties and festivities are planned around the television set, where families and friends usually lounge around, eat, drink and cheer on their favorite team. For Super Bowl XXXIX, which takes place Sunday, Feb. 6, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) suggests stirring things up a bit. “Instead of hosting a laid-back, sedentary event, add some energetic activities and healthy foods to the mix to make it a ‘super feel-good day’ for all, whether their team wins or loses,” says Ken Locker, MA, ATC, director of Sports Medicine Services, Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas, Texas, and former assistant athletic trainer with the Dallas Cowboys including three Super Bowls (X, XXII, XIII). While NFL athletic trainers are working behind the scenes with the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots to help ensure their players are fit and ready for action, NATA recommends the following fitness tips for casual football fans and Monday-morning quarterbacks alike: NATA’S TOP HEALTH & FITNESS TIPS FOR SUPER BOWL FANS
- Toss the Ball on Game Day . Since the main event doesn’t begin until late in the day, invite your guests to join you for an early game of touch football to get the blood pumping. Why should the professional players have all the fun? It will also relieve a little pre-game tension.
- Stretch Yourself . In addition to circling the buffet table, be sure to exercise throughout the game to avoid stiffness. Invite your guests to stretch their hamstrings and quad muscles once a quarter or during halftime. Continue with some knee bends, calf stretches, stomach crunches, sit ups and push ups.
- Plan to Pump & Jump . Keep some hand weights in the TV room to encourage guests to get a “lift” during game breaks or team time outs. Also, keep a few jump ropes around for the kids and adults to enjoy.
- Take Out the Step Stool. Have a step stool in the corner or closet? Well, take it out and do a few repetitions.
- Hit the Floor Running . Encourage your guests to stand up, stretch and run in place to avoid leg stiffness. Make it mandatory that every time a touchdown is scored, all guests have to jump up from their seats and cheer (or boo).
- Eat Smart and Stay Hydrated . Plan on serving healthier finger foods, snacks and desserts this year. Also, offer a variety of beverages, including bottled water or sports drinks, to keep your guests well-hydrated through all four quarters.
- Take a Break. When there’s a break in the game, try to take a break, too. Step outside and enjoy a breath of fresh air. Take out the trash or clean up a few dishes (so you won’t have to later).
- Remember to Breathe. Taking frequent deep breaths throughout the game will calm the nerves and increase your lung capacity (to cheer for your favorite team, of course).
- Dance Up a Storm . With this year’s halftime show featuring Paul McCartney, get into the groove and feel the beat. Grab a friend or loved one and flow with the music. Dancing is a great aerobic activity. Just be sure to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions.
- Bask in Your Own Glory . Whether your team has won or not, you and your guests will feel great if any of these techniques are practiced. And if you happen to have rooted for the winning team, you’ll feel terrific.
Locker suggests you always listen to your body. “If you participate in any fitness routines, always start in moderation. And, if you feel any particular pain you should stop. Always consult a physician when participating in new activities or experiencing discomfort. Most importantly, enjoy yourself and you’ll feel physically and mentally at your best. You will be the REAL winner this year!” About the NATA: Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. www.nata.org. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax).