Does Getting Healthy Seem Like an Olympic Feat? You Are Not Alone!

Rohde Photo


(As seen on Fox 2 Detroit “The Ladies Room”)

What an amazing few weeks it has been for our United States 2008 Olympic Team.  Anyone who has picked up a newspaper, turned on the television, or surfed the internet could not help but come across stories of these phenomenal athletes who not only are winning medals, but breaking world records!  The team and individual accomplishments really are remarkable.


I think that one of the most incredible athletes in the Games was Dara Torres.  This woman has medaled in five different Olympics (the most ever).  With the three medals in Beijing, she now has twelve, which ties the record for the most in Olympic history won by a female athlete.  At the young age of 41, she is the oldest Olympic swimming medalist ever (she already was the oldest gold medalist ever at 33).  Oh, and she achieved this most recent “comeback” two years after having given birth to her daughter, Tessa!


Now, acknowledging this can be inspiring or discouraging, depending on your point of view.  I suggest that we all choose to be inspired.  Adopting an active lifestyle is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your health for life.  Not only will this help you and your loved ones develop a strong musculoskeletal system, but it also will improve every other system in your body!  So don’t wait until New Year’s Day to make a resolution to get active; here are a few suggestions to keep you and family members of all ages on the right track:


1. Get off that couch! Computers, cable TV, and other modern conveniences have kept us much less active than prior generations.  Hide your remote control, pretend the Internet is down, and get outside and enjoy the end of the summer. 


2. Rethink grabbing your car keys.  Remember when you couldn’t drive yet?  Next time you head out, try walking or biking.  I even know people who bike (miles!) to work.  Obviously, this depends on where you are going, what you need to bring, and what your fitness level is, but you’ll get exercise, fresh air, and save money on gas!


3. Whether child or adult, set aside 30 to 60 minutes every day for “play time,” and make sure this involves physical activity, not just watching other people being active on TV. 


4. Sign up for a class or join a team.  Knowing that there are other people counting on you to be active is a strong motivator to follow through with the plan.  Similarly, suggest that a plan to meet family or friends involves physical activity rather than a meal; meeting someone for a run is much more productive than meeting for a drink!

5.On that subject, drink water!  We might not realize how much fluid we are losing.  Stay hydrated before, during, and after exercise; don’t wait until you are thirsty!

6.Stretch before and after exercising.  This step is so easy to skip, but muscles that are “warmed up” are less prone to be injured.

7.Listen to your body.  Pain is a symptom that something is wrong; playing through it can cause serious injury.  Likewise, “overdoing it” by going from soccer practice to swim lessons to tennis in a day probably isn’t a good idea.  Your body needs time to recover after activity.

8.Make smart meal choices. Calcium (1,200 mg/day) and vitamin D are very important components of building strong bones.  Also, healthy foods like fruit and veggies make better snacks than chips and soda.

Sometimes it is hard to be active, but the hardest part is the beginning.  I bought a swimsuit and goggles last week, inspired by the U.S. swim team.  I went to the pool and tried to use what I had learned in high school swim class.  You know what I found out?  Six hours in a pool is a long time… when you are winded after six laps… but you have to start somewhere.  So my mom and I signed up for a class together.  We start next week; maybe I’ll see you there?  We might not all get that Olympic medal, but we all can reap the benefits of our efforts…for life.