Updated 22 November 2013

Watch the game and lose weight

Slouching on the couch is a sure fire way to pick up weight. Be inspired by the guys on the field and get moving!

Let's pretend that for once you’re striving to look like a Springbok backline player. Easy.

Set yourself challenges during a game, between games and after games – and you could shake your beer belly over the course of a few weeks. (Of course, you also need to keep an eye on those snack platters…)

Challenge #1: 60 seconds 
When play is stopped because of injuries during a rugby game, there's a lull of 30 seconds to a minute when nothing much happens. The same is true for the period after points have been put on the board and before the players kick off again.

As soon as the referee stops play, get down and see how many push-ups you can do before they start. Add height to your push-ups over the course of a few weeks by putting your feet on a couch or stool. The elevated push-ups increase the effect of gravity, making the workout tougher.

Remember your number from the first match and compare it to the number you'll be able to do almost effortlessly after 6 – 8 weeks.

Challenge #2: 10 minutes
Use halftime for the ultimate 10-minute workout instead of listening to the experts list everything that has happened in the preceding 40 minutes. You can always listen while doing your exercises.

Start halftime with a one-minute warm-up by jumping on the spot. This will get your heart rate up. Follow up with one minute of stretches. Focus on the big muscle groups such as quads, your hamstrings, calves and chest. After the stretching, you can do push-ups and tricep dips off the couch (and squats on the floor). Add lunges and standing calf-raises to round out your half-time routine.

With a toddler on your shoulders you’ll feel the burn when doing squats. And tricep dips are more challenging with a six-pack of beer on your lap.

Challenge #3: 60 minutes
lf you have anything from an hour to a day before or after watching a game, go for a run or cycle. You need only 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise to get renewed vigour pumping through veins.

The aim of these exercises is to burn kilojoules. If you’re sitting around eating all day (first at work; then on the couch watching the telly), you need to burn off what you eat. The harder you work, the more you’ll burn.

If you’re already in decent shape, push yourself during the exercises. But if you're a habitual couch potato, rather start slowly and go at a comfortable pace.

If you maintain these exercises, they’ll benefit your blood pressure and heart rate and your cardiovascular risk factors will be reduced.

Healthier game snacks
There’s no point exercising your heart out if you don’t also cut back on the beers and snacks. Remember: you should burn more energy than you consume in order to drop a jeans size.

Here's what to eat and what not to eat:

Don't go for traditional biltong: This is a great protein source, but a quarter of that handful is pure fat and the sodium (salt) can send your blood pressure rocketing. And remember: the higher your blood pressure, the higher your risk of heart disease – and specifically of a heart attack or stroke.
Go for ostrich or venison biltong: Chew a bit slower and enjoy a bit more. Ostrich, kudu and springbok are all great sources of lean protein and you’ve cut the fat and cholesterol significantly. Salt is still an issue, so watch your portion sizes.

Don't go for fizzy cooldrinks: Watch out for sugar overload. There are up to eight teaspoons (40 g) of sugar in just one can. Increased intake of soft drinks and fruit juice can increase dental cavities while playing havoc with your blood sugar.
Go for sparkling water, light drinks or diluted fruit juices (50/50): They cut the sugar but keep your mouth hydrated enough for you to bellow at a referee who can't hear you. Enough fluids help reduce your risk of a heart attack and prevent dehydration, which can impair concentration, and cause headaches, irritability and fatigue (you don’t want to nod off during the game, do you?).

Don't go for chips and dip: Read the label – about a third of what you're eating is pure fat. With every handful of chips you’re getting in 10g of fat and if you finish off a large bag you’ve nearly had your quota for the day. Saturated fats clog your arteries, increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Go for homemade popcorn: Check the label – only buy popcorn that has less than 2% trans fats. You get a healthy dose of fibre and it will help sustain your energy levels so you can focus on the game.

Don't go for beer: More than two drinks a day can raise your blood pressure. More than six during a rugby match can cause all kinds of problems. Alcohol can play havoc with your liver, dehydrate your body and can increase feelings of depression.
Go for light beer: Depending on the brand, light beer can drop your alcohol intake by half. Beer is a good source of minerals as it is high in potassium, low in sodium and high in magnesium and contains significant amounts of calcium, phosphate and silicon. In moderation it can be good for the heart and blood pressure. You'll also be persuaded to clean up after every televised match because you don’t want your friends to know you’re drinking light beer!

(Health24, November 2013)


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