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Archive for Sunday, February 6, 2005

Beat the gameday spread with healthy halftime

February 6, 2005

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— The Super Bowl is a holiday of enthusiasm and overindulgence, so we're not going to lecture you about the beer and the buffet.

Instead we have a suggestion: How about a healthy halftime?

Paul McCartney is great, but you've seen him before. If anything unexpected should occur, which you might recall happened last year, it will be replayed endlessly anyway.

So let's take that 30-minute interlude -- far longer than the normal halftime so the NFL can cram in more commercials -- and mitigate a little of that dietary damage on National Couch Potato Day.

First, suggests Tom Noune, a personal trainer who runs corporate wellness programs in the Dallas area, get out.

"If it's a decent day, just going outside will do you some good," says Noune, whose firm is called Heart, Health and Wellness. "It's taking a break from being on that couch, shaking off the food you've had and getting away from the buffet for a while."

So take a walk. Even better, he says, get into the Super Bowl spirit.

"When I was growing up, at halftime we would grab a football and play catch," Noune says. "We were psyched up about the game, and we wanted to grab the mood. Adults can do the same thing. They don't have to feel that's just for kids. Get out and throw the ball around."

Cheryl Boswell, director of health and wellness at two Dallas-area YMCA, augments that advice with another tip:

If you had too much to drink in the first half, she says, "Take your dog on that walk and hope he remembers how to get home."

All about moving

But even if you're stuck inside, there are plenty of fitness options.

Noune says the Super Bowl offers the same possibilities as any TV-watching session.

"Grab a piece of the floor and do some sit-ups," he says. "If you're in a chair, lift your legs up and hold them for 10 seconds, then release. You can tighten up your muscle groups."

If you just can't give up Paul McCartney, Boswell says, "maybe you can dance with him.

"It's all about moving," she says. "A little cardio, a little jogging in place -- you don't have to prepare for a marathon to improve your health."

If there's a coffee table handy, Boswell says, "put your feet under it and do a few crunches."

And if you're in a group?

"If I invited people for a Super Bowl party, I would give them each a stretch band and tell them, 'This is going to be our halftime activity,"' Noune says.

"You could do a half-dozen exercises -- bicep curls, shoulder presses, work your triceps. You can make it fun and get a nice little pump."

Snacks as workout tools

Boswell has similar ideas, but more in line with the day's festivities. Maybe you never realized it, but the same folks selling you snacks are providing workout tools. Skeptical? Here are some examples:

A two-liter bottle of your favorite soft drink is great for bicep curls. Ditto for a chest press while you lie on the floor.

Stand up, bend at the hips, grasp two six-packs in front of your thighs. Raise your outstretched arms till they're parallel to the floor. It's called a lateral raise, and your deltoids will thank you.

Take a case of your favorite beverage and hold it in front of you with arms extended downward. Lift it to your chin. Voila! It's an upright row.

Have your partner put some weight on your back for extra exertion as you do pushups. Any balanceable foodstuff will do. If you use a bowl filled with guacamole, be sure to use a spotter.

Though the advice may be light-hearted, Noune says he's seriously worried that for many people, the Super Bowl sounds the final gun on New Year's fitness resolutions.

"They set their sights too high in January, so they're already setting themselves up for a crash," he says. "Then you face the Super Bowl party, and it's like an extension of Thanksgiving and Christmas. They throw just about everything out the window."

That little fitness booster shot at halftime, he says hopefully, might be a subtle reminder to keep doing the right thing, health-wise.

But he also acknowledges it could boomerang.

"People might rationalize that 'Now I can eat twice as much in the second half,"' he says.

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