Staying Fit a Challenge, Even for Former Athletes
> 5/28/2008 4:05:00 PM


Student athletes may appear destined for long lives and slender figures, but this is often not the case. Those who excelled at athletics in high school and college tend to have a difficult time remaining fit and healthy once they graduate.

The problem for student athletes may lie in their ways of thinking about sports and exercise. While in school, most were in excellent physical shape, but once their athletic careers come to an end, they needed to view exercise in a completely different way. Without the thrill of competition to motivate them, few former athletes can maintain their previous levels of fitness. The drive to be better than an opponent or improve over time has  suddenly disappeared, and many athletes find they don’t know how else to relate to the concept of fitness. Some, having grown weary of the demands of competition, even view exercise as a chore. These former athletes may need to rework their thinking about exercise if they are to manage their fitness levels.

Unfortunately, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly while already healthy and active is much easier than loosing weight after a period of sedentary living, and coaches and collegiate programs often do not teach students how to prevent weight gain or avoid unhealthy choices. At times, coaches can place their focus almost entirely on the next opponent or the next race, spending little time discussing the healthy habits and attitudes that would allow them to build a foundation for lifelong health.

Especially at the high school level, schools and coaches should emphasize the benefits of staying fit and maintaining good health. With all the detrimental consequences associated with a ballooning waistbands, students should also strive to motivate themselves not to abandon their active lifestyles. If they develop a drive to be active and fit rather than a drive to win, these individuals may find staying healthy an easier and more achievable task once their athletic careers have ended.

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