Stay healthy while watching the World Cup

Lead Physician at Bupa Health Centre Glasgow
04 June 2018

If you’re a football fan who likes to make the most of international tournaments, I’m sure you’re readying yourself for a busy summer …

Starting next Thursday, 32 teams will battle it out over 32 days for the most famous trophy in fooball. In that period, there’ll be 64 games, guaranteeing at least 96 hours (or – if you like – 5,760 minutes) of action. You certainly won’t struggle to get your football fix during the World Cup.

A football on a grass pitch

The bad news is that hitting the sofa for 96 hours is hardly a recipe for a healthy summer. The health risks of a sedentary lifestyle are well established, and you might have other unhealthy habits that go along with your football-watching.

With that in mind, here are my top tips for staying healthy while you follow the action from Russia!

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

Football and beer often go hand-in-hand, and many of us will be enjoying a cold one while watching the game. But two beers with every match you watch during the week – even if that’s just four or five matches – could tip you over 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.

Fortunately none of the World Cup matches start later than 7pm. However, extra time, penalties, and that crucial post-match analysis may take the coverage past the time you’d usually hit the sack.

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:

  • use half time to go outside for a brisk walk
  • give our 15-minute workout a try
  • follow our ad break workout below. Click the image to open a larger version.

Bupa's ad break work out




Bupa health insurance aims to provide you with the specialist care and support you need, as quickly as possible. Find out how you can benefit.

Dr Lynsey Baird
Lead Physician at Bupa Health Centre Glasgow

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