This weekend the Huskers kick off their first season in the Big 10. Gone are the days of the Big 12 – and with that gone, too, are any links to the storied history of the Big 8 (although we do still have the memories). But I, for one, think we’ll be stronger for it.
Uh … so you're an optimistic Husker fan - what does that have to do with healthcare?
Glad you asked. I’ve decided that in celebration of the new era in Husker football, I’m going to challenge myself and all of you to enter a new era for fans: the healthy era. Rather than sit back and accept the fact that football season is fraught with unhealthy food and bouts of couch potato syndrome, why not take a step in a new direction, follow these tips and make a change for the better?
- Relax. It’s just a game. Unfortunately, every season can’t be a championship season – even for the Huskers. [Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely hope this season ends with a celebration at 72nd and Dodge – since my "so completely unfair"mom wouldn’t let 13-year-old me go there to celebrate in ‘97]. But just in case it isn’t our year, stressing over a football game certainly won’t help matters. In fact, it might even hurt! Cardiologist blogger extraordinaire, Dr. Eric Van De Graaff was cited in this Super Bowl article saying, “losing a close game is particular traumatic for some and that distress can manifest itself physically.” The stress can lead to a rise in your heart rate and blood pressure – and that could lead to a heart attack, especially if you have an existing heart condition.
- Eat healthy without sacrificing the taste. From the cheese dip to the chicken wings, believe me, I know how hard it is to stick to a healthy diet during football season. But Cardiac Dietitian Toni Kuehneman offers tips to keep your tummy trim, like trying hummus instead of the traditional bean dip or simply choosing light sour cream, mayo or Miracle Whip in your dips.
- Get up and move. I’ve spent a Saturday or two (and more than my fair share of Sundays) cooped up in front of the TV watching all of day’s big games. “But I’m rooting on my teams,” I tell myself. Unfortunately, my waistline could care less about my team loyalty. Football season or not, the U.S. Surgeon General recommends we all get 30 minutes of physical activity every day – and kids need twice that amount! So whether you hop on your bike at halftime or take a celebratory jog around the park after a big win – just get up and get moving!
- No sunshine doesn’t mean no sunscreen. A sunburn when it’s cold or cloudy defies logic, right!? Wrong. The American Academy of Dermatology advises that everyone wear sunscreen every day – whether sunny, rainy, cloudy or even snowy. Look for sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 and with UVA and UVB protection. And make sure you’re wearing sunglasses with UV protection, too, as melanoma can also develop in the eyes!
- Limit screen time. It’s easy for a college football fan to lose track of time and spend a beautiful fall Saturday cooped up in front of the television and computer (see tip #3). But did you know that too much stimulation can actually have a detrimental effect on your quality of sleep - especially for children? That’s why Rita Regnier, LMHP with Alegent Health Psychiatric Associates suggests televisions and computers go off at least one hour before you hit the hay.
- Don’t forget – beer has calories, too! Water, diet soda and iced tea are all better choices than alcohol and, depending on how late you are into the season, apple cider, sugar free hot chocolate, coffee or hot tea can also be smart options.
- And speaking of alcohol … I sincerely wish it didn’t need to be said, but DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. No more elaboration needed, tip #7 is as simple as that.
- Choose to chew (gum, that is). How many of you are mindless munchers? You know who I’m talking about – those people who gravitate to the table of tasty treats even if they’re not hungry. If that sounds like you, try another one of Toni’s tips: chew a stick of gum. It keeps your mouth active and busy so you’re less likely to pick at the food all day long. So simple, yet so effective!
- Control the road rage – or get off the road. Driving in and out of Lincoln on game day can be a sporting event in and of itself. Personally, I try to avoid the traffic altogether and plan my trip to get there before the rush and to leave after it. But if you don’t have that luxury and just the thought of driving in game day traffic makes your blood boil … then check out this article from the DMV and learn how to recognize signs of road rage in yourself and others.
- Support your team AND your back. If you’re concerned about keeping your back healthy, then Memorial Stadium (and most college football stadiums, for that matter), might not be the best place to spend your weekend. However, if you can’t stay away from the game, make sure you’re using proper posture, as prescribed by the experts at the Alegent Health Back & Spine Institute. If you’re sitting, that means to change positions every so often and to find a way to support your arms and lower back. If you’re standing, try to keep your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles aligned and shift your weight from side-to-side periodically.
And, of course, no Big 10 would be complete without 12 items (or teams ... you know, because that makes sense?). So here are our final two additions to this Big 10 – a couple of delish heart healthy recipes, courtesy of our Alegent.com recipe box.
- Bonus healthy recipe #1: Chili - Yes, I know you've probably been making your chili recipes for years ... but just give this recipe a try at least once! It has all of the beefy, bean-y, spicy, tomato-ey goodness of chili, with a lot fewer calories (just 228 calories per serving!)
- Bonus healthy recipe #2: Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip - I have just one word to describe this recipe: pure-amazing-unadulterated-deliciousness. [That counts as one word, right?] Seriously, if no one told you it was healthy, you probably wouldn't even realize it. Indulge away!