Deciding what sport to play should align with your health. When doing so, consider your physical condition and your objectives.
Medical Advisor: Alexandra Osorio Guáqueta. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare.
Whether you are a high-performance athlete or workout on the weekends, do it for fun or to compete, everyone has a different motivation for exercising. While the age you start an activity makes a difference, as it turns out, it is not an obstacle. The most important part of starting an exercise is to assess your musculoskeletal state, how much time you will dedicate to the activity, and of course, the objective you bring.
But, how do I make the right decision and how do I know if I’m capable of doing an activity or not? The answer is simple: the best way to prepare yourself for a new physical activity is to be seen by a professional in sports medicine. Alexandra Osorio Guáqueta, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM & R), explains how getting a cardiopulmonary and musculoskeletal assessment is key to deciding what type of exercise is best for someone. “Cases of sudden death have been known to occur from people jumping into a sport that has become popular, such as marathons, without getting a complete physical checkup; and because people that claim to be instructors may not have the right training to handle a problem that may occur.”
It’s never too late to start
According to our expert, people can begin sports at any time as long as they are in good physical condition, their cardiopulmonary system is functioning properly and they do not have a disease that limits them playing sports. “If the idea is to train as a high-performance athlete, the recommendation is for children to begin at academies and clubs between ages six and nine. If the idea is to play a sport in order to stay in good physical condition, you can begin to any phase of life. Nowadays, many people play sports on the weekends or play recreational sports. Some do this for their health to prevent things such as osteoporosis -for example- and to improve their physical condition, prevent muscle atrophy or practice physical conditioning.”
Osorio explains that it is especially important for people who play sports just on Saturdays and Sundays to be aware that they are the ones with the greatest risk of injuring themselves. In addition to having a low level of physical activity, this group of people often do not seek professional assessment prior to exercising. In general, they tend to use clothes and shoes that are not suitable for the activity, do not warm up or stretch, and also do not develop the right technique for the exercise.
In addition to leading a healthier life and developing healthier habits, physical activity clearly reduces the risk of disease. As long as the exercise is practiced under the conditions recommended by medical professionals, it can help maintain a healthy state of health and wellbeing.
Tips for CHOOSING THE RIGHT SPORT
- Ask yourself what activities you truly enjoy and have fun with. Stay away from those activities that bore you or turn into too much of a sacrifice.
- Do not use the excuse that you do not have the time; pinpoint the reasons that keep you from doing the activity.
- If necessary, invite friends, family or coworkers to work out together. Exercising as a group brings better results.
- Do not demand too much of yourself at first. Slowly increase the range of activities you perform to give variety to your exercise.
- When you set your goals, be realistic; think of them in short, mid- and long-term periods.
- If the activity that you choose is outdoors, such as walking, running or riding a bike, try taking different routes to avoid them becoming monotonous.
- Never begin a physical activity suddenly, do it slowly and in a way that fits your abilities. Try not to compare yourself with others.
- Take the time to choose the clothes and shoes that you will use when playing your sport; each activity has its own unique requirements.
- Take 5 to 10 minutes to warm up ahead of time, and to stretch the muscles or parts of the body involved in the specific motions of the sport. Do the same when you end the activity.
- Stay hydrated, either with isotonic drinks (which keep you well-hydrated) or water.
- Be sure to eat nutritiously before, during and after you exercise.
- Exercise at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes.
- If it is your first time going to the gym, be sure to have a trainer design a routine for you. This will help prevent injuries from improper movements, some of which are irreversible.
- Do not over exert yourself when lifting weights, remember that all training is a gradual process.
- If you take supplements to improve the condition of your muscles, get assessed by a professional. Taking them without following specific indications can affect liver or kidney function.
An antidote to stress
In addition to the physical changes it can produce, doing regular, intense exercise is the best way to fight stress. According to sports medicine doctor, José Reinhart, when we exercise we release three hormones: adrenaline, endorphins and serotonin. These help clear the mind, activate the body, increase our level of happiness and even better, raise our self-esteem. Among the many benefits of physical exercise is ability to reduce the risk of heart disease. Some studies show that activities as easy as walking, swimming or running reduce the risk of a heart attack by 60%.
Technology, an ally for your workout
For many, cell phone apps are easily the best workout partners when it comes time to exercise. Here are three that you can download:
- 8 fit. Offers HIIT (high intensity interval training) routines that can be done anywhere: the gym, at home or at the park. It implements the use of your own bodyweight to gain strength, resistance and lose weight.
- Runtastic. Measures distance, time, speed, elevation and counts the calories you burn. It includes a trainer that talks to you, gives you the option of setting annual goals and gives you real-time encouragement as you exercise.
- Vientre plano Lumowell. Includes different levels that vary in intensity and in how much exercise you want. The recommendation is to do each level 3 to 5 times each week before you are ready for the next.