It’s here again! It’s another World Cup year and football fans are already catching the fever all across the globe. Although you have the option of watching alone at home, this is the kind of time you are more likely to want to catch up with friends to see the matches.
But there are certain inherent health risks when people watch their favorite major sporting events. You need to pay due attention to them while watching matches, regardless of whether you do so alone or in a watch party, in order not to jeopardize your long-term health. We present here some tips to help you stay healthy during the World Cup.
Pay Attention to What You Eat
Ordinarily, you expect to have a fun time when watching your favorite sporting events. The experience, for most, is not complete without having something to munch on. But sports fans – not just football fans – often make the wrong choice in terms of snacks they select. They opt for fatty, fried, or sugary snacks, such as buttered popcorn, roasted nuts, or tortilla chips.
Now, you are most likely aware of what harm such foods can potentially do to your health. But you can easily forget how much of these you have eaten when you become engrossed in matches involving your darling teams at the World Cup.
You need to consider lower-calorie alternatives to these snacks to protect your health against effects that will extend beyond the tournament. Fresh fruits should be top on your list because people rarely have issues from consuming these. Low-fat popcorn, unsalted nuts, and baked potato chips are also good.
Limit Alcohol Intake
For many football fans, who are mostly males, game time is practically synonymous with beer time. You will see these sipping away while watching matches. If you are one of such, you can easily go over the recommended limits during the World Cup, with about 16 matches played in a week. And it’s no longer a secret what harm alcohol can do to your health, including causing cancer.
It may not be practicable for you to avoid drinking while watching matches, if you are the type that is already used to it. You can opt for non-alcoholic or low-alcohol drinks to reduce risks from consumption.
It is best to go for drinks with little or no sugar. That brings us to the next point.
Drink Enough Water
It is easy to become dehydrated when watching football matches. This is especially so when planning to watch outdoors during daytime or at places with poor ventilation.
Generous water intake is also very crucial for fans that drink alcohol, as they can easily become dehydrated.
Make sure you drink adequate amount of water before heading out. When you become fully immersed in a match you are watching, you will hardly realize you are getting dehydrated or feel the need to do something about it immediately.
Make Efforts to Stay Active
Just like when watching your favorite show on TV, your level of activity drops significantly when watching football matches. It is not surprising then that many people across the globe will sit for at least 90 minutes at a time during World Cup matches. This is not good for health. It can contribute to back pain and heart problems, among others.
It is important to ensure you get up and move around regularly. You should aim to do this at least once in every 30 minutes. This is especially crucial for you if your job is the type that involves sitting in one place for a long duration.
Control Your Emotions
You are probably like “huh?” right now. We know it’s easier said than done. How do you react when you see your favorite team performing below expectation or getting dumped out? That experience will very likely be frustrating or saddening, and there’s no telling what might happen afterwards.
But it is not entirely impossible to rein in your emotion. You must still find a way to do it to protect your health. Why is this important?
Experts have found that anger, depression, anxiety and stress – all of which football fans (and sports fans generally) often experience – can set off a heart attack. People with coronary heart disease or those in very stressful situations are particularly at greater risk.
And going by findings from a New Zealand study, performance of fans’ favorite teams in major sporting events, such as the World Cup, either increases or reduces hospitalizations for heart failure. Success leads to reduction, while failure causes increase.
German researchers also observed a rise in cases of retinal vein occlusion during and after the 2014 edition of the FIFA World Cup.
The risk of this vascular disorder of the retina is greater in people experiencing cardiovascular events, such as some football matches can bring about. This is a common cause of vision loss in people.
The need to control one’s emotions during the World Cup is also more important to guard against risky behaviors. Some fans can become violent or cause accidents when their favorite teams get thrashed or dumped out. There have even been reports of increase in number of deaths or suicides in research.
It helps to avoid alcohol if you really want to control your emotion. Avoid or reduce consumption of foods or drinks containing high amount of caffeine because these can affect the rate and rhythm of your heart. Also, realize that it is just a game after all and life goes on afterward.
Do Not Sacrifice Your Sleep
A match should ideally take less than two hours to complete. But this is not always the case. Some, especially in the later stages of the World Cup, could extend well beyond two hours.
If you also love to catch up with post-match analysis, that adds more minutes. And it is a serious concern if this will cut deep into your sleep hours.
Skimping on sleep can have potentially long-term, adverse effects on your health. It causes a drop in immune function and makes you more prone to infections and illnesses. It can reduce your productivity at work and increase risk of being involved in workplace accidents, among others.
We assume that your health matters more to you, so you should put it first. Set a time by which you must turn off the TV – a reminder at 5 minutes before then could be helpful. You may watch one half and postpone the other to the next day, or just catch the highlights.
Yes, you love the game and would love to enjoy every minutes of the World Cup. Let this not be at detriment to your health. The tips we have provided here can help you ensure there will be no issues after the tournament has ended – if you observe them strictly. They are basically about adopting a healthy lifestyle.
It also helps to avoid smoking, including second-hand smoking, and ensure you sit properly while watching matches to guard against muscle aches.