The Winter Olympics kick off on the 9th Feb. This international multi-sport event will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea. The winter games will bring two weeks of exciting sporting action that primarily are held on snow and ice. Great Britain will send its largest ever team to the Winter Olympics this year, with 59 athletes selected.
There are 15 sports including; alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsled, cross country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, short track speed skating, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboard and speed skating. As you’d expect all athletes will have been training hard and eating a carefully controlled, personalised diet for months and months to ensure they are in the best shape for the games and to prevent illnesses and injury. Most of the athletes have a dedicated team whom prepare their diet plans (sports nutritionists) and training regimes to ensure they will be at their peak fitness. Although we may not be able to easily do any winter sports here in the UK (unless you can make it to an indoor snow centre or the Cairngorms when they have enough snow!) hopefully you may be inspired to be more active and eat more healthily!
To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do:
- at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week, and
- strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) (Reference: NHS Choices)
There are a number of activities you can take part in to get moving more. Exercise comes in various types and mixing activities is a good way of keeping things fresh, while also reaping the benefits. A bout of exercise is classed as anything over 10 minutes of continuous exercise. There are a number of great workout videos available online that you can do in the comfort of your own home, if you lead busy lives and struggle to find time. Another great way is to incorporate activity into your daily commute - perhaps get off a bus or train one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way or ditch the car and cycle into work if possible. Exercise classes are also a great way to get fit, they can be motivating and a little friendly competition can always help, there are lots of different classes out there from aqua aerobics, spinning, body pump and many more. Park Runs have become extremely popular, great for families and friends to get involved, be sociable and get active while having fun, find your local park run here.
Fuel for exercise
It is important to remember whilst exercising and getting fit we must ensure we are also eating a balanced diet to fuel our body for such activity. Eating a balanced diet everyday will provide you with all the nutrients that you need for shorter exercise sessions, but when exercising for more than one hour in any sport, it may help to pay special attention to what you eat before, during, and after exercise; this will help improve recovery, reduce tiredness, and give you the energy to train harder & longer. Everyone is different, so see what works best for you. If you’re doing longer bouts of exercise the below advice may be of help to you.
You should eat a high carbohydrate low fat meal to effectively top up your glycogen (carbohydrate stored in your muscles to fuel exercise); good examples include porridge for breakfast, jacket potato with salad for lunch, or chicken stir fry with rice for dinner, depending on when your training session is. Eating 1-4hrs before training should allow time for your stomach to empty before training, helping to prevent stomach cramps which could inhibit performance. Drinking 500ml of fluids 2-3hrs before exercise will ensure you are fully hydrated, as dehydration will negatively impact on your performance and result in headaches and dizziness.
If your training session lasts less than one hour, then you won’t need to refuel, but you will still need to drink water. If your training lasts longer than one hour, then consuming 30-60g carbohydrates per hour can help with maintaining your energy levels and allow you to train longer. Good examples include dried fruit and cereal bars containing dried fruit and nuts. It’s important to drink small amounts of fluids regularly when exercising to replenish the fluids lost through sweat to help prevent the effects of dehydration. For exercise lasting longer than one hour, it may be helpful to drink diluted fruit juice or an isotonic sports drink to obtain extra carbohydrates as a liquid instead of relying on foods.
Post workout nutrition is essential for aiding muscle recovery and replenishing your glycogen stores. If exercising over 1 hour, research shows eating a carbohydrate snack containing protein (15-25g of protein) within the first 15-20 minutes of completing the session aids recovery. Examples include a cheese sandwich, milk shake, cereal bar containing nuts and dried fruit. Furthermore you should also ensure your post training meal is based on starchy carbohydrates; eating within 2-3hrs after exercise supports muscle growth, muscle & bone repair, and recovery of glycogen stores; examples include chilli con carne with rice or baked potato and beans.