As much of an honored tradition as is Thanksgiving dinner, so too is the annual ritual of the “Turkey Bowl.” And whether it’s a simple game of catch in the backyard or something more organized, this fun game sends thousands of people to the emergency department every year with a host of injuries large and small.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that by observing a few simple rules, the game can be fun and safe.
Don’t ignore the warm up
Those taking to the back yard gridiron would be well served by warming up prior to the competition, particularly when the weather is cold. Exercises include jumping jacks, jog in place, high knees and side shuffles down and back the length of your playing area. And it’s OK to take regular breaks as not everyone has the same level of fitness and conditioning.
Wear the right clothing
Your dress loafers and slacks may look great at the family dinner but are probably not the best outfit when you’re trying to chase down the quarterback. Loose fitting casual clothing that won’t hinder your movement and sneakers with a good tread are good items to toss in the trunk of your car when heading to Grandmother’s house for dinner. If there’s a chance of contact then a mouth guard –available at many drug stores- is also a good precaution. You will set a good example for any youngsters running around hoping to be the next Rob Gronkowski, not to mention save hundreds of dollars on future dental bills
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
A mistake people often make during cold weather months is not drinking enough liquids when exercising outdoors. The American Council on Exercise recommends drinking 17 to 20 ounces of water at least two hours before beginning your workout. About 20 to 30 minutes before your workout, drink another 8 ounces. While you are exercising, drink 7 to 10 ounces every 15 minutes. Within 30 minutes of completing your workout, drink an additional 8 ounces. As alcohol and exercise are generally not a good combination, it’s best to avoid mixing the two.
Remember, it’s only a game
While competition is fun and part of the game, let’s not forget that we’re playing for fun. Back yard games should be touch, not tackle (no one is wearing pads) and emphasize the benefit of a shared activity not the final score. Through good sportsmanship, you’re also setting a good example for the youngsters who are playing or watching.
Know your limits
If something hurts, stop playing- your health is far more important than the final score. And if you experience shortness of breath or chest pain, please seek immediate medical help.
Regular exercise can help you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, and strengthen your bones and muscles. But if you haven’t exercised for some time and you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Playing non-contact football is a great way to exercise while enjoying time with friends and family and by taking a few precautions, you can enjoy the day instead of trying to figure out what your co-pay is for a trip to the local hospital.
Erin Mitchell is the Director of Healthy Living at the YMCA Allard Center of Goffstown. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise and Sports science with a Concentration in Health and wellness from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. At Meredith, Erin was a member of the basketball team, playing power forward for the Avenging Angels. Prior to joining the Granite YMCA, Erin held wellness leadership positions at the Boys and Girls Clubs serving Wake County in Raleigh and at the YMCA of North Shore in Beverly, MA. In her role at the Y, Erin brings a unique perspective to member service and engagement, community involvement, and identifying needs and serving the community.
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