Widely considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time, many credit Tom Brady’s skill on the pitch with his relentless ‘grinding’: he trains unremittingly, studies more and works harder than 99% of most athletes.
With virtually all US states ready to resume NFL training and games, one big question hanging over gridiron fans is how game-ready players will be coming out of lockdown.
Social distancing has made it harder for pro footballers to keep to their usual training regimes, and has made group practice mostly an impossibility. How will these million-dollar sportsmen perform after such challenging conditions?
Brady recently revealed on his Instagram story his ‘immunity boost game plan’ for staying in shape during this global pandemic, and there are some good lessons even amateurs (or couch potatoes) can learn from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers star.
This “keep it simple” checklist seems basic at first glance, but let’s break it down.
Keep A Positive Mindset
It may sound trite but a positive mindset can make all the difference both to your physical and mental health. Sometimes, health gains or losses are purely psychosomatic. If you’re worried about getting sick, you’re more likely to get sick. If you think you’re going to be well, you’re more likely to feel well. It’s why placebos in medical trials often return illogically positive results: you’re expecting to be better, so you become better.
This doesn’t mean you should eat like a pig, avoid exercise and just try and ~manifest~ gains. But if you’re trying to avoid getting ill or maintain your fitness levels, a positive attitude can make a world of difference.
Brady recommends consuming 1/32 of your bodyweight in water every day (he weighs 102kgs, so that’s 3.2l, FYI). The whole ‘8 glasses of water a day’ adage has very little scientific basis, but drinking plenty of water has almost no adverse health impacts and could be incredibly valuable for maintaining peak condition.
Making sure you’re having plenty to drink, and swapping unhealthy drinks like cola or beer for healthier alternatives like tea or water ensures that your body is ticking over smoothly.
Eat Your Vegetables
This one’s a no-brainer. Veggies are good for you, champ. Make sure you’re getting your ‘five a day’. Next!
Micronutrients, Trace Minerals & Probiotics
Brady explicitly mentions Vitamins C and D; zinc; essential fatty acids and probiotics as must-haves. A balanced diet is critical to building a strong immune system: you need to make sure you’re consuming enough essential micronutrients and trace minerals like the ones he’s mentioned.
Vitamin C is readily found in fruits and veggies, and Vitamin D comes from the sun, baby! Make sure you’re getting outside, even if you’re working from home!
Zinc, essential fatty acids (e.g. omega-3 and omega-6) and other important stuff like iron, folate or niacin can be found in animal proteins like fish and red meat. This ties in to another of Brady’s recommendations: eat lots of protein.
Probiotics (aka ‘good bacteria’) are also important for maintaining gut health and can have a substantial impact on your health. If your immune system has been compromised and you’ve had to take antibiotics, restoring your microflora needs to be a priority once you’re well.
Luckily, the easiest source of probiotics is good-quality yogurt, which also contains valuable protein and calcium. Fermented foods like pickles, miso, tempeh or kimchi are also easy ways to get probiotics into you.
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Move For 30-60 Minutes Each Day
Another no-brainer is making sure you’re not sedentary and doing just a bit of exercise every day, which makes a huge difference in the long run. Whether that’s walking the dog, taking the stairs, a nice morning swim or structured workouts, every little bit helps.
A great way to fit exercise into a busy routine is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Check out our guide to HIIT here.
Added or ‘hidden’ sugar is absolutely rife in the things we eat or drink, and it can be surprising how much sugar is added to things that either don’t need it, or you wouldn’t expect to contain sugar.
Natural sugars from fruits or juices aren’t quite as bad for you as the refined sugars common in snacks or soft drinks, but it still adds up. For example, there’s about 8g of sugar in a glass of orange juice, which doesn’t sound like much but works out to about 16% of your daily intake.
Keeping an eye on your sugar intake and avoiding sugary food options is an easy way to stay fit.
The Importance Of Sleep
Lastly, getting a good 8 hours is crucial for maintaining your health. Sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels, and ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke, this study reveals.
The less you sleep, the more stressed you are, too. That links back to our point about psychosomatic illness: stress can have a tangible physical effect on your health, and skimping on sleep can undermine all your good work in other areas.