Being active after your athletics career is over can be a challenge. You tend to do the whole finding a job thing, getting married, and having kids; all things that take up your precious time and move exercising to the back-burner. I’ve been out of organized competitive sports for a year now and remaining active has at times been a big struggle for me.
From the 4th grade through my senior year of college I’ve been on a sports team. The incentive to working out was always rather simple – workout and get better at your sport.
Immediately after my last season of football last fall I took a lot of time off from training. I was worn out and had all sorts of little physical aches and pains from the rigors of a football season and I knew I needed to recover.
What I didn’t know was how tough mentally it would be for me to train again. Those that know me rather well know that I’ve always been a hard worker in the weight room; always trying to do extra things to gain an edge in my sport. The commonality every year has been having that sport as the incentive, but without that I really didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t decide on a specific goal or what I really wanted to get out of my training.
After I took some time off from training I only worked out sporadically for months. I had no real plan for how often I should lift, what I should do, or the real reason behind why I was training.
The way it changed is this. I was watching a motivational video by Eric Thomas a couple months ago. He talked about finding your why and in the video he told the story of the lion and the gazelle. The main point of it was this; the gazelle runs from something, while the lion runs to something.If there is no lion behind it, the gazelle just grazes gently without a care in the world. The lion, however, runs because it is not simply trying to get food for itself, it is trying to feed its entire family. Their motivations are way different.
For whatever reason this video really resonated with me and was exactly what I needed to see. I took some time to really think long and hard about why I exercised. When I was in sports I trained to improve at my sport, but more importantly I trained to contribute to my team and be the best teammate I could. This is something I really hadn’t thought about after my athletics career was over, however this ties in perfectly with my training now.I don’t train now simply to look good or feel good (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love these benefits). The main reason now that I exercise and also lead a healthy lifestyle is to be an example for others.I realized that I wasn’t just training for myself and that by leading a healthy lifestyle I could influence others to lead a healthy lifestyle as well. I could truly influence my clients to do so, my parents, and my friends.
Something you may not have thought about is why you do what you do on a daily basis. If you don’t have a solid reason for what you do everyday it can be extremely difficult to follow through with doing things that are actually important to you.
Each year there are around 8 million people that play a high school sport. Sure, some go on to play a college sport or even a professional sport, but all of their athletic careers will end and when their careers are over, a huge portion of them will never exercise even close to as much as they did while they were on a sports team.
Whether you are just finishing up your athletics career of you have been out of sports for 25 years,you can benefit from some of the strategies I will outline below to help you exercise for a lifetime.
Types of Exercise to Include:
- Strength Training. Whether you like it or not strength training will be one of the most important things you can do. Preserving muscle mass and even gaining some is vital if you want your metabolism to remain high. Muscle burns many more calories than fat does, so if you want to stay in shape make sure to include strength training a couple of times per week.
- Cardiovascular Activity. Find some type of cardiovascular activity you enjoy. This could be biking, swimming, running, playing soccer or basketball, whatever it is, the importance of including this type of exercise is to help your heart remain healthy. The biggest key is to really find activities you would enjoy doing for many years to come.
How to Implement Each Type of Exercise
- Decide what you want from your training. Are you just trying to casually stay in-shape and maintain your weight? Are you trying to slim down from your sport? Are you trying to put on some muscle mass your sport wouldn’t allow for? Regardless of what it is you want from your training, you have to decide on a goal so you can choose the type of parameters that help you achieve that. How you train in each case is going to be somewhat different.
- Choose how much time you can devote to training. You have to be realistic with this one, but truly think about how much time you can spend training based on your lifestyle. If you are married with 3 young children you might not be able to spend as much time training as if you are single with no big time obligations. Set a realistic amount of time to devote to exercise each week and stick to it.
- Find the types of exercise you enjoy. I really can’t stress this one enough. There are so many different avenues for staying active; find what works for you. Some former athletes may want to continue on with Olympic lifting or even do power lifting, while others may enjoy running different races, while still others may want to join a pickup basketball league.
- Make it fun. I’ve found this to be one of the most important aspects of exercise. You can make exercise more fun by finding a workout partner; get a great workout in and spend more time building that relationship. Also, switch things up to make exercising more fun for you. If you want to learn more exercises so that you can add some variety to your plan, hire a personal trainer for a session or two. You can learn exercises that you can implement the rest of your life.
I can tell you first hand that exercising after your athletics career is over is not always easy, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just lift weights, perform cardiovascular activity, and have some fun. If you want to learn more about structuring a workout feel free to contact me.
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