By Sara Bondell
It’s that time of year again.
68 teams. 19 days. One champion.
March Madness has begun.
But even if your team doesn’t win, you don’t have to be a loser when it comes to your health. Here’s five tips to stay healthy while watching the tournament:
Keep your stress level in check – Remember, it’s just a game. But if you find your team in overtime and yourself on the edge of the couch screaming at the television, try and relax. Breathing is a great way to reduce tension. Try this relaxation breathing exercise:
- Sit in a comfortable place and keep both feet on the floor
- Let the muscles in your abdomen (“belly”) relax
- Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose and count silently to three
- Exhale through your mouth and silently say to yourself “relax” or visualize your team hitting the winning shot
- Do this for four breaths
Don’t get fouled for unhealthy eating – You want to watch the game score rise, not your waist size. Put down the pizza and cookies and opt for some of these healthy alternatives:
- Dip fresh vegetables into Tzatziki sauce or hummus topped with chopped Kalamata olives and tomatoes. You can also dip tortilla chips into a layered dip of guacamole, black beans and salsa
- Looking for a crunch? Try homemade kale chips dusted with parmesan, popcorn made with sunflower oil, dried chickpeas or steamed edamame
- To satisfy your sweet tooth, eat fresh fruit like grapes and mixed berries
Take a time out for exercise – After watching teams give it their all on the court, take a cue from their playbook and get moving. Exercise can help reduce stress, improve mood, maintain a healthy weight and give you an energy boost. Experts say staying active for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week can also help reduce your cancer risk.
Get plenty of rest – Some of the games may run late into the night, but don’t let it affect your sleep. Experts say lack of sleep stresses the body, which can impact your heart health. Studies also show sleep-deprived employees are less productive at work.
Have fun – Happiness is healthy. Research shows having fun reduces stress and improves your relationships with others. No matter how your team does in the tournament, make sure you smile and laugh because sometimes that can be the best medicine of all.