Are Athletes Really Healthy?

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While training for my first marathon, I was obsessed with Runner’s World magazine. I loved reading all of the inspirational stories about superior athletes and those that overcame amazing odds. But periodically a story would pop up about an unexpected death of a seemingly very healthy athlete. Eventually I noticed a pattern and became intrigued. How could these amazing athletes, who ran upwards of 50-100 miles each week, suddenly die? Weren’t all of those miles and races completed guarantee to ensuring a long and healthy life?
After doing some research, I discovered why these sad tragedies occurred. Although exercise has tremendous health benefits, anything beyond moderate physical activity puts a great deal of stress on the body. If this compacted stress isn’t countered with a healthy diet, the body gradually becomes taxed. Although there aren’t necessarily any outward symptoms, much can be happening deep within the body.
So as an active person, what can you do to prevent negative effects of intense exercise? Bring your body into balance by eating a very clean diet. This includes eating mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains and a moderate amount of protein and fats. Fruits and vegetables provide countless benefits for the body, as well as help to restore lost vitamins and minerals. Also, athletes greatly benefit from the complex carbohydrates gained from eating whole grains. Proteins such as fish and lean meats and fats such as avocado and olive oil are important, but should be a side to the main meal. Drinking plenty of water is also essential, along with hydrating after a workout. I love drinking coconut water because of all the natural electrolytes!
In addition, I think it’s a fantastic idea for active people to incorporate mind-body techniques to recharge their batteries and rejuvenate their souls. Examples of this includes Yoga, meditation, reading, walking in nature, spending time with loved ones, getting a massage, journaling, praying and many more. Basically anything that supports your well-being and helps you mentally is a great idea. We put our bodies through so much, it’s the least we can do!
Although being highly active is often seen as an esteemed attribute of any individual, a healthy diet must equally be valued. By choosing to fuel your body with the proper nutrition that your active lifestyle demands, you will be well on your way to a long and healthy life.

*The information on this site is designed for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Thank you!

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~by Kimberly Olson

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