Senchyna: Sports and fitness transition for life

Many young people have grown up having gained some experience and acquired a skill-set during physical education for playing sports...

Many young people have grown up having gained some experience and acquired a skill-set during physical education for playing sports during their high school or post-secondary levels of education.

However, when these years pass, the routine of playing, training and staying fit usually takes a backseat to other lifestyle changes of career and family obligations.

If the person was an elite athlete, the lifestyle change can even be greater,  since so much of one’s time was taken up by training, practices and games during those school years.

When the competitive years are over, the transition to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle can be a challenge. But there are ways to overcome some of the barriers preventing a return to a healthy lifestyle and to re-invigorate your competitive spirit.

Often a common barrier is programming activity into a busy schedule.

In our younger years, most of the scheduling is set up, and field availability, gym schedules, or ice-times and game and practice times are decided by coaches, parents or administrators. But as we transition out of school into the working world, the onus to create the schedule falls on the individual.

Participating in a workout should be viewed as one of the most important activities of the day. Therefore, it is important to schedule a workout at the most convenient time and protect this time as if it were an important meeting. Compliance may be improved if the individuals schedule their workout at the same time each day and write down future workout dates and times in a day timer.

Another strategy is to keep a workout routine with a partner so that both individuals will keep each other motivated and on-track. This only works if both people are equally motivated and reliable. We can also make an efficient use of limited exercise time by breaking up the exercise session into multiple shorter bouts of activity and combining daily responsibilities with exercise. And of course finding and joining a local recreation league is a great way to keep fit, stay on a schedule and meet new friends.

If you are a little adventurous, why not try a new sport you have never played. What better way to challenge your body with some new movement patterns for your nervous system?

It is also important to get the minimum, recommended exercise each week which is that adults perform at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, five days per week or at least 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity for three days per week. Moderate intensity is described as an intensity that “noticeably accelerates their heart rate,” whereas vigorous intensity “causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate.”

In addition, it is also recommended that adults should perform 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days of the week to help manage body weight and prevent unhealthy weight gain in adulthood.

And finally, nutrition is incredibly important to maintain optimal health and body composition. Some former athletes trained and played so hard and so often, it was all they could do to eat enough calories to supply their energy needs. During the 2008 Olympics it was reported that Michael Phelps regularly consumed about 12,000 calories a day to fuel his training demands. This is a vast amount of calories considering that most of us require roughly about 2,000 each day and up to about 3,000 for active individuals. While many competitive athletes don’t require Phelps’ vast intake, it can be a challenge to reduce quantities in the transition down to moderate levels for typical everyday lifestyles. Former athletes have to be just as careful with the composition of foods since when one is eating high calorie counts for competitive training, the food choices can become less judicious.

For instance, the acceptable macronutrient distribution range for carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are 50-60 per cent, 20-30 per cent, and 20-30 per cent, respectively, of total daily caloric intake with sensible food choices from all the food groups including fruits and vegetables to also maintain optimal micronutrients.

These transitioning issues are relevant for adults, as well.

Kerry Senchyna holds a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology and is owner of West Coast Kinesiology in Maple Ridge.