If you are reading this article, you have an interest in sports. Chances are you play a sport or work out, played a sport in the past or enjoy sports in general.

Are you an athlete? We all know who the elite athletes are: Tom Brady, Lance Armstrong, Kobe Bryant, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Paul Pierce. They all have competed at the highest level against the best in the world.

I want to expand the list. I want this list to include anyone and everyone who decides that today they are going to move their bodies for the health of it.

We all have an image of what an athlete is and does. Is this the only image we should have? I want us to think differently when we see the out of shape or obese person riding a bike or walking on the side of the road. You are looking at an athlete.

I believe everyone who is exercising is an athlete, regardless of age, weight or physical condition. And they need to be recognized as one.

Webster’s Dictionary tells us an athlete trains and competes in exercise or contests.

I have found that my biggest opponent in sports is my own mind. It is easier to roll over and stay in bed than to get up earlier to go for a run or to do a set of push-ups and sit-ups to get the day started.

The biggest excuses not to exercise are a lack of time or energy. If you want more energy, you need to expend energy. You will feel revitalized after a swim or a walk. If you do not take the time to take care of yourself, will you have time to be sick?

What I have always liked about exercise is how I feel afterward. My mind is clearer and I have more energy for the rest of the day.

Studies have shown if you exercise in the morning you will be more regular with your exercise program. You never have a conference call scheduled at 5:30 in the morning. You also will lose weight faster because your metabolism has been turned up for the day.

Jack LaLanne, the father of modern fitness, states it is easier to be sick and die early but it takes a lot of work and discipline to live a long and healthy life. The choice is yours.

Most everyone I ask in my practice wants to live a long and active life. Are they fooling themselves if they are not healthy and active throughout life?

We plan for our financial future by putting money into our retirement accounts. What about our health accounts? Every time we put on our ski boots, bathing suit or tie our tennis shoes, we are adding to our health account.

I challenge all of my patients to be athletes and I want them to start now. I challenge you to start today.

The benefits are enormous. How about more energy and a better quality of life? You can not stop the aging process, but decaying is optional.

Whatever you like to do now, you should be able to do at age 80. If you like to golf, you should still be able to play. If you like to garden, you should be able to continue. Your recovery time may be a little longer, but who cares? You are being an athlete.

Do not exercise to please someone else, it does not work. Exercise for you, because you are worth it.

 

Dr. Robert Lynch is a former president of the Maine Chiropractic Association and head of the Lynch Chiropractic Center in South Portland. “Staying in the Game” appears every other Thursday in the Press Herald.