Stand and Cheer for Your Health
You watched from the stands, so why are you the one with sore muscles?
Bleacher Butt (n.) - A condition caused by prolonged sitting on the hard wood or metal seats of bleachers for sport events, which compress of the gluteal muscles between the pelvic bones and the flat wooden surface, resulting in pain and paraesthesias. More common in older adults and worse in cold weather.
Ask any soccer mom, Husker fan or youth sports parent: Sitting on bleachers is no laughing matter. It’s not just sore backs and numb tushies. American spectators are slowly sitting themselves to death.
As a society we are spending more time seated than ever before. “Our bodies weren’t designed to sit so much – driving, at work, in front of the TV and at our kids’ sporting events,” said Carlos Prendes, MD, primary care provider with CHI Health Clinic. “Sitting really is the new smoking.”
Studies show highly sedentary people are at significantly greater risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and depression. Even if you regularly work out, research shows those who sit for six hours or more a day are more likely to die earlier than someone who only sits for three.
“It’s the ‘use it or lose it’ philosophy,” Prendes said. “Regularly using your muscles keeps them healthy and pliable, but lock them in a sitting position day after day and they’ll get stiff. Year after year, they’ll become less proficient at running, jumping or even standing.” In fact, sitting is partly why people have a hard time getting around as they age.
How do you watch from the bleachers and still keep your muscles active? It’s simple according to Prendes:
“Stand more. Move more. At least 10 minutes out of every hour. You don’t have to go the gym. Even leisurely movement can help reduce aches and pains and have a profound impact on your longevity.”
As an additional benefit, the doctor adds, “Standing and moving triggers the breakdown of fats and sugars. You’ll burn more calories, possibly leading to weight loss and increased energy.”
Fan-tasticly Healthy On-the-Go Foods
Sports and concession stands go hand in hand, and can mean empty calories – full of fat, salt and sugar. But even on the run, healthy choices are possible with a little planning.
Eat before you go. Throw together a slow cooker meal in the morning. Or microwave a frozen dinner (15 g fat, less than 800 mg sodium). Add a whole grain roll and fresh fruit to complete the meal.
Bring it with you. Pop some prepackaged string cheese, to-go yogurt, sliced fresh fruit or peanut butter-filled celery in your pocket. Dried fruit, fresh fruit and granola, wrapped in a peanut butter-slathered whole wheat flatbread or tortilla, is a nutritious portable meal!
Choose wisely at the concession stand. Water, rather than soda or sports drinks. Popcorn instead of chips. Choose a hamburger (blot the grease), using mustard not ketchup or mayo, over a hotdog or brat. And skip the largest-size chocolate bars and candy.
Get-Moving Strategies for Spectators
- Get a fitness tracker that reminds you to move every hour.
- Stand along the sidelines.
- Actively fidget for 5 seconds each time the whistle blows.
- Stand and cheer during every time-out.
- Walk at halftime and between each game.