Don’t let football season ruin your fitness this year

man holding drinks at party, friends in background

There’s something about football season that excites even the most die-hard fan. Whether you’re rooting for your alma mater or just wasting an afternoon of fantasy screenings, it’s hard not to get excited once the pigskin starts flying in the fall (and winter).

Of course, with football comes parties and soirees that add enjoyable food, drink and interaction to your fall schedule. But if you’re not careful, all that griddle-inspired feasting can spell the end of your fitness journey before the second half even begins.

Now, we’re not saying you have to completely give up all those delicious drinks and snacks, but have some game plan before huddle breaks can go a long way in preserving a hard-won figure from now until the playoffs. Follow these four tips to stay “fit” on game days this season.

1. Stay mobile through (commercial) coverage

There are many breaks in the action during a football game, including commercial timeouts and halftimes. Instead of sinking into your favorite lawn chair or armchair during these moments, get up and move around a bit. Even just standing for a few games can burn more calories than slouching on the sofa.

You don’t have to do a full-on workout between postures, but a little effort and movement can be enough to help banish any overtaking lethargy. It’s great (and sometimes beneficial) to go on a relaxing game day, but getting in a few steps is not only healthy, it’ll also make you feel better at the end of the day.

In the rivalry between sitting and standing, the latter always wins.

Thomas Barwick

2. Adopt a balanced approach to beverage selection

Alcohol, specifically beer, is the drink of choice for many football fans, but it may not be the only player on the pitch. Mixing in water or a soft drink can help cut excess calories over the course of the hour. Plus, opting for water during those morning tailgates when there’s more sun can help keep you hydrated as the party heads into the game.

We love a few soapies when snaps turn into touchdowns, but just keeping an eye on your intake can be a great way to stay healthy for the week ahead. Like your favorite team’s offensive coordinator, a balanced attack is often the best approach.

3. Snack according to your scouting report

Four quarters of football plus pre-match festivities mean plenty of opportunities for refreshments. But refueling just by sitting in a match can leave you with more income than you spend. Remember, it takes much longer to burn off excess calories than it does to consume them, so consuming football all day could be equivalent to intense training for a near-marathon.

To keep your intake in check, spread out your snacking throughout the day rather than loading up on chips, meat and other tasty treats from sunrise to sunset. Think fist-sized portions when it comes to salty snacks, and don’t forget to mix them with water to create that “full” feeling. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a slice of pizza, a couple of buffalo wings, or a handful of pretzels, but portion control is paramount.

man prepares barbecue food for friends at a tailgating party

When it comes to burgers and other bites, moderation makes all the difference.

Thomas Barwick

4. Stick to your game plan

While it may seem harder than beating redzone coverage, you can actually keep your fitness and football in harmony. You just have to be willing to stick to your game plan throughout the game itself. Don’t back down, stay strong and you’ll be better when the final whistle blows.

After all, there’s always an opportunity for your team to bounce back from a bad year on the gridiron. On the other hand, your health is more difficult to recover – and you should value the work invested much more than the winning seasons.

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