Stay healthy while watching your favourite sports

Dr Lynsey Baird
Lead Physician at Bupa Health Centre Glasgow
04 June 2018

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This article is more than three years old. It reflects the best available evidence at the time of publication.

Whether you’re a player, supporter or spectator, sporting events can bring people of all ages and walks of life together. Take the Olympic games for example, where the world’s best athletes compete, and the sense of sportsmanship and comradery is infectious. For some countries, sports even play an important part in their nation’s identity – like Gaelic football in Ireland, baseball in the USA and ice hockey in Canada.

But you don’t need an expensive season ticket or a flight to Japan in 2020 to support your favourite team or your country. You can watch every round, goal and try from the comfort of your own living room. Putting your feet up for a night in and catching up on this week’s events might even be your way of unwinding and taking some time out for yourself. Maybe you’re a fan of boxing or darts, or it’s tennis or cricket you enjoy.

While you sit and admire the talent of the fit and healthy athletes on your screen though, it’s important to be mindful of just how long you’re spending on the sofa. –So the next time you settle in for an evening of watching your favourite sport, try these tips to help make sure you stay healthy too.

Choose healthy snacks

Have you ever found yourself wondering how you got through a family size bag of crisps? When you eat whilst watching television, you’re less likely to pay attention to your hunger signals or how much you’ve had. So be mindful of what you’re eating. Try replacing:

  • crisps with rice cakes and peanut butter, a fruit scone or hot-cross bun
  • salted nuts with a small handful of unsalted varieties
  • fried foods with fresh fruit or chopped vegetables and reduced-fat hummus

Take a look at 50 of our favourite food swaps for more ideas.

Monitor your alcohol intake

You might enjoy a beer while you're watching the game, but drinking too much alcohol can harm your health. So it's important to keep note of how much you're drinking and stay within the recommended guidelines. This is up to 14 units a week for both men and women.

You could try:

  • drinking low-alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks instead
  • adding soda water to your drinks to make spritzers
  • having alcohol-free nights and not drinking at home

Set yourself a curfew

How long a sporting event lasts isn’t always within your control. If you’re a cricket fan, you’re probably used to some late-night sessions watching Southern Hemisphere matches. Or a football match might go into extra time and you're glued to those crucial last minutes. Before you know it, it's the middle of the night and you've only got a few hours left before you have to be up for work. 

But not getting enough sleep can have harmful effects on your health. Try:

  • setting yourself a time to switch off from the screen
  • watching the first half today and finishing the rest tomorrow
  • recording it to watch on another occasion

Keep moving

You can often get so involved in what you’re watching that it’s hard to tear yourself away. But sitting for long periods of time has been linked to some long-term health conditions. So make a conscious effort to get up and move as much as you can, especially if you’ve already been sedentary in work for most of the day.  You could:

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Dr Lynsey Baird
Dr Lynsey Baird
Lead Physician at Bupa Health Centre Glasgow

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