Cigarette smoking is one of the most difficult habits to break due to the highly addictive nature of nicotine. Nicotine, carbon dioxide and other toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke take a toll on your health. They reduce lung and heart function, which undermines cardiovascular fitness and exercise endurance. Exercise can help to repair some of the damage caused by cigarette smoking — and you don¡¯t have to wait until you quit to get started.
When you smoke, you become breathless more quickly during physical activity. Cigarette smoking is one of the leading risk factors for cardiovascular problems. For instance, it elevates blood pressure and narrows blood vessels that transport oxygen. Smoking also destroys parts of the lung, including the alveoli, that help your body absorb oxygen and reduces oxygen capacity of your lungs. Over time, you¡¯ll notice it¡¯s difficult to walk just a few blocks or take a flight of stairs. These aren¡¯t symptoms of aging; they¡¯re the harmful side effects of smoking.
You don¡¯t have to wait until you¡¯ve puffed that last cigarette to start exercising. In fact, you shouldn¡¯t. Exercise might have a protective effect and reduce some of the damage caused by smoking. Also, exercise can be an invaluable part of your plan to quit smoking. It helps you to relax, which can curb cravings. It can also distract you from those cravings when they arise. However, if you do wait to quit, you¡¯ll notice fast improvements in your fitness levels after just a few days of exercise.
If you quit smoking a while ago and are just starting an exercise program, you cannot blame breathlessness or lack of endurance during exercise on smoking solely. After just three to five days of quitting, blood cells regain their normal ability to transport oxygen to your heart and muscles. Those symptoms are most likely due to a lack of fitness in general.
Before you begin exercising, go for a physical exam. Once your doctor gives you the green light to start, do so slowly. Regular, moderate-intensity exercise should be your starting point, not occasional vigorous-intensity exercises. For instance, walk for 10 to 20 minutes three to four days a week. As your fitness improves, increase the duration and intensity of your exercise sessions on a weekly basis. With regular exercise, you¡¯ll feel better and reduce your risk of a relapse.
Football involves aggressive physical contact, but also requires speed and agility. Equipment manufacturers strive to find new ways to protect football players without cumbersome padding and extra clothing. One such innovation has been the football girdle, whose advancements in material and design technology make the garment less inhibiting and more protective than previous versions of football undergarments.
The football girdle is a thin sleeve of material worn under the outer shell of football pants. The traditional girdle, basically a pair of pants beneath the football pants, features stitched pockets to hold a protective cup and pads for the thighs, hips and tailbone. Once standard equipment, girdles faded from popularity as many players moved away from wearing lower-body padding in an effort to gain speed.
Although some football players find the idea of wearing another layer of clothing too restrictive, the football girdle provides improved safety, particularly for running backs and players who receive excessive contact. The girdle¡¯s main benefit is that it keeps all padding in place, ensuring optimum protection. Without a girdle, thigh pads, hip pads and tailbone pads may shift, exposing the body to injury. New girdle designs enhance protection even further, adding extra padding at key contact points.
Modern football girdles do more than simply provide secure pockets for padding. Manufacturers make girdles from compression material, allowing the girdle to flex and move with the body. The fabric¡¯s design often delivers improved air flow and moisture wicking to keep athletes cool and dry, while antimicrobial fibers help reduce odor. Many newer girdles also feature a series of small hexagon-shaped foam pads stitched directly into the girdle to protect the hips and tailbone; these allow for protection without the weight of a bulky external pad.
When deciding whether or not to wear a football girdle, weigh your need for comfort against your desire for protection. Some players, especially wide receivers who line up on the outside and who rarely venture over the middle, may prefer to not wear a girdle for fear of losing quickness, since they seldom take big hits to the legs. However, thanks to technology, girdles have become lighter and more comfortable, perhaps making the decision to not wear a girdle an unnecessary risk in a contact sport.
Two entities that compile injury statistics for the roughly 380,000 male and female college athletes. The NCAA and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association have an injury surveillance system that collects injury reports submitted by trainers. It has been in operation since 1988. Through 2004, there were 200,000 injury reports — filed when an athlete misses a day or more of practice or competition — which works out to about 12,500 injuries per year. That number has been relatively consistent over the years. The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research in North Carolina has kept statistics on college sports injuries since 1982. Both organizations aim to reduce the number of injuries in college sports.
The national surveillance system breaks injury statistics down by sport, type and year. For example, although college baseball has a relatively low rate of injuries, 25 percent of them are serious or severe, defined as injuries that prevent players from practicing or competing for at least 10 days. Sliding accounts for 13 percent of the recent injuries and the impact from a batted ball accounts for 10 percent of injuries. The trainers organization recommend break-away bases to cut down on the sliding injuries.
Concussions at all levels of football are a tremendous problem as of 2011, with a growing number of retired professional football players suffering from dementia after repeated concussions during their playing days. Among college football players, 34 percent have had one concussion and 30 percent have had two or more concussions. As the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery reports, if you have a second concussion, even a minor one, soon after the first concussion, you might die. A total of 26 deaths, most occurring since 2000, are attributed to “second impact syndrome.” The neurological effects of concussions in college athletes also can result in learning disabilities and severe memory impairments. There is a lower, but significant, incidence of concussions in soccer as well.
Female college athletes suffer from up to five times as many ACL — anterior cruciate ligament — injuries as male athletes. ACL injuries bedevil women basketball, soccer and softball players, among others. As an article in “The New York Times” explains, there are anatomical, biomechanical and hormonal reasons why women are so vulnerable to ACL tears. Trainers are teaching players to land and cut in ways that might cut down on the number of such injuries.
While other sports, such as ice hockey and lacrosse have spectacular body-to-body contact and collisions during play, football still has the highest injury rate with 36 injuries per 1,000 male athletes. In addition to the high number of collisions in football, it also has the highest number of knee and ankle injuries. Cheerleading is by far the most dangerous sport for women athletes. The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research found that cheerleading accounted for 70.5 percent of catastrophic injuries — fatal, disabling or serious — suffered by college athletes. The high-flying routines create unique risks for cheerleaders.
Church picnics present a great opportunity to bring a community together and have fun for all ages. If you have never planned a church picnic, you may not realize the amount of time and planning that occur prior to the event date. Much of the planning involves deciding on carnival games for the children.
Set up a booth for children to have their faces painted. You may paint anything from flowers to cartoon characters. If you prefer to focus on church themes, paint crosses or animals from bible stories.
Fill a small swimming pool with yellow rubber ducks. Underneath each duck, draw a colored dot. The dots should correspond with prize levels. A participant picks one duck out of the pool and may choose a prize corresponding with the dot color.
Attach several buckets to different rungs on a ladder. Have the participant stand behind a line about five feet away from the ladder. The participant tries to toss bean bags into each of the buckets. The participant wins a prize based on the number of bean bags she successfully tosses into buckets.
Line up glass milk jugs or plastic containers with a similar shape. Have participants stand about 10 feet away and toss rings over the mouths of the containers.
Attach an old tire to a rope and hang from a tree branch. Have the participant stand 10 to 20 feet away from the tire and try to toss a frisbee or a football through the tire.
Purchase a few bags of jelly beans. Place all the jelly beans into a glass container. Have participants guess how many jelly beans they believe are in the container. At the end of the contest, whoever guesses the closest wins the container of jelly beans.
Create a lollipop tree out of a piece of cardboard. Fold the cardboard in half and tape both ends down to a table so that the fold is sticking up into the air. Buy several cases of lollipops and mark several of the lollipop bottoms with a colored marker. Poke holes in the cardboard and fill it with lollipops. For the game, the participant chooses a lollipop. If it is marked, he or she receives a prize. If it is not marked, the participant still gets the lollipop but no prize.
Prior to the designated starting time for this event, measure lines in an open area corresponding to yard lines on a football field. Mark the lines with tape or spray paint. Have participants line up at a starting line and throw, punt and kick a football toward your marked lines. Have judges standing at the lines to see where the ball first hits the ground. Record each person's throw or kick. Award prizes to the individuals who threw or kicked the ball the farthest.
A hockey puck can scorch across the ice at 110 mph, as measured by all-star contests in 2011 in the U.S. and Russia. The fastest pitchers can launch a baseball at 105 mph, as the Cincinnati Reds’ Aroldis Chapman managed in September 2010. A football, with its ungainly oblong shape, technically called a prolate spheroid, doesn¡¯t typically reach these speeds. But quarterbacks with a cannon arm can still get the ball downfield with plenty of mustard on it.
The maximum speed of a football is actually achieved by the legs of place kickers and punters, not the rocket arms of quarterbacks. College punters can achieve top launching speeds of 60 mph, with 70 mph expected for top pros, writes Angelo Armenti in ¡°The Physics of Sports.¡± Place kickers achieve another 10 mph from running up to the ball, so kickers achieve around 70 mph in college and 80 mph in the pros.
ESPN¡¯s ¡°Sport Science¡± feature uncovered the football throwing speed of one leading quarterback when it tested New Orleans Saint Drew Brees against an Olympic archer to see which could more accurately hit the bull¡¯s eye on an archery target. In the process of hitting the bull¡¯s eye on each of his first 12 tries, Brees threw at 52 mph. The ball had a launch angle of 6 degrees and spun at 600 rpm. Aerodynamic forces kept the nose of the ball moving right on target, with the ball displaying the optimal and necessary three small wobbles for five spins of the ball. Brees creates speed on the ball by what he calls the ¡°kinetic chain¡±: power that rises from his feet to his hips, shoulder and finally throwing arm. Brees demonstrated how the index finger comes off the ball last, giving it its final push.
Drew Brees¡¯s 52 mph falls in the typically 50 to 60 mph speed recorded for a professionally thrown football and may have been a bit slow because of his focus on accurately hitting a target 20 yards away. ¡°Sport Science¡± also clocked a pass by Colt McCoy of the Cleveland Browns at 56 mph. In the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine testing college players, Nevada¡¯s Colin Kaepernick registered 59 mph. Ryan Mallett of Arkansas recorded 58 mph, and Cam Newton of Auburn, 56 mph.
Figures for football greats are largely anecdotal but indicate that the greatest quarterbacks had exceptional throwing speed. Brett Favre is estimated at 63 mph, and Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning, 59 mph on short hard throws. The hardest thrower ever may have been the Denver Broncos¡¯ John Elway, who may have thrown in the rare category of above 60 mph. ¡°They used to set the Jugs machines at 70 to 80 mph for us receivers to simulate John¡¯s throws,¡± recalls Elway¡¯s former receiver, Rod Smith.
Honey is a sugar-rich syrup that is purported to be a beneficial sweetener because it contains natural sugar, rather than artificial sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup. While honey can be beneficial in some ways, one nutritional use for which honey is unlikely to be beneficial is increasing testosterone. Several nutrients can increase testosterone levels, but honey is not rich in these nutrients, so it is unlikely to impact your testosterone level. Consult a doctor prior to addressing any medical conditions, such as low testosterone.
One potential benefit of honey for increasing testosterone levels is that it contains no dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is a crucial nutrient that aids in healthy digestion, promotes feelings of fullness and can help stabilize blood sugar levels. However, research published in the December 1996 edition of “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” indicates that too much fiber can inhibit testosterone production. Thus, replacing fiber-rich foods with honey may aid in increasing your testosterone levels.
Honey contains no dietary fat, which can be helpful if you’re trying to cut fat and calories, but it’s detrimental for testosterone production. In addition to supplying energy and helping your body absorb vitamins, dietary fat is involved in hormone production. According to research published in the November 2004 issue of “International Journal of Sports Medicine,” increased fat intake can promote increased testosterone levels.
Honey is high in sugar, with more than 17 g in each 1 tbsp. serving. While sugar makes honey taste good and can provide energy, it can be detrimental for hormonal levels. Research performed in 2009 at Massachusetts General Hospital found that consuming sugar caused a reduction in testosterone levels, so honey is not a good food choice for enhancing testosterone release.
In addition to dietary fat, other nutrients can promote increased release of testosterone. Among them is magnesium, according to a study from the February 2009 edition of “Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis.” Unfortunately, honey is devoid of magnesium, so it can’t supply this testosterone-boosting benefit.
The National Football League ¨C the NFL ¨C is a league composed of the best football players in the world. Similar to other levels of football, the NFL uses an egg-shaped football, but the NFL has specific rules to the size, shape and materials used for the football. The Digest of Rules of the NFL explains the official size requirements for the football, along with other basic rules for playing the game.
The NFL has set measurement rules for the overall length and largest circumference at the center of the football. An official NFL football is slightly larger than high school or other professional leagues. The length should measure about 11 inches from tip to tip, and the in circumference at the center of the football should measure about 22 inches.
Overall weight and air pressure are specific in the NFL, too. The football and materials weighs about 14 to 15 oz., and is the ball is inflated to about 12.5 to 13.5 lbs. per square inch. These weight and air pressure measurements create consistency among the many footballs required in a game.
The NFL rules also govern the dimension of materials, the number of layers and the pattern of design. Four leather panels are weighed, measured and inspected for blemishes before being sewn together. The top two panels are sewn together with white leather laces. Inside the leather panels is a 3-ply VPU rubber bladder or interior lining that holds the air.
Before every NFL football game, the home club supplies 36 footballs for outdoor contests and 24 footballs for indoor ones. An additional 12 footballs are marked with the letter ¡°K,¡± and are used specifically for kicking. The referee inspects every football two hours before the game to ensure it meets the official size, weight and air pressure requirements.
For many kids, middle school is the place where the game of soccer goes from a recreational activity to something more serious and competitive. Typically, there are tryouts for positions, and coaches start to become more concerned with winning than having fun. A number of professional players, coaches and soccer experts believe there are a lot of good things about representing your middle school on the soccer field.
You get to stand up and be proud. “Playing for your school ties the academic to the athletic and allows you to play for something bigger than yourself: your school and community,” says former U.S. national team player Tony Sanneh. It gets you fit. “Instead of going home after school, you are out on the field, running and sweating and increasing your strength and stamina,” says Pierre Barrieu, fitness coach or the U.S. men’s national soccer team.
It builds unity. “Competing for victories and titles with my classmates gave me a sense of camaraderie I take pride in to this day,” says Chris Henderson, former U.S. national team player and current technical director for the Seattle Sounders. It creates memories. “I was the only player from school team to go on to play soccer in college, but those teammates were friends that I spent each day with during school, and are my friends to this day,” says former professional goalkeeper and current youth soccer coach Mike Ammann.
It’s a way to support your kids. “In middle school, the games are almost always nearby, so it’s a great way for parents to get out and cheer on their children,” says Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer. You have to study hard. “School teams usually require students to maintain a high grade-point average in order to compete, which can be a strong incentive,” says Michael Lewis, journalist and author of “Soccer for Dummies.”
It makes you budget your time. “Playing middle school soccer helps students learn how to better organize their time, which pays huge dividends in the long run,” says Sam Pierron, director of special projects for Sporting KC, a professional soccer team. You get more touches. “School teams usually train four or five days a week, which means more touches on the ball, and that’s always a good thing,” says U.S. national team midfielder Michael Bradley.
You lean on others. “In soccer, no one player can do it all by himself, so being a part of a team helps kids learn to rely on and trust one another,” says David Kammarman, director of soccer operations for the Los Angeles Galaxy. You get to be on the inside. “Being on any team is something special. There are always certain things that stay within the team and that teaches trust and honesty,” says U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley.
Free safety is one of the most physically and mentally demanding positions on the defensive side of the ball. These football players are asked to cover a lot of ground and have vital roles in defending against the passing and running games. They are arguably the most cerebral of the defending 11, tasked with diagnosing a play as it unfolds or before it begins, then getting in the right position to make the play.
Free safeties must be fast, athletic players with the ability to cover a lot of ground. Often tasked with covering the likes of speedy wide receivers or covering vast areas in zone coverages, the centerfielders of the defense must fly from sideline to sideline making plays in the passing game. Practice your footwork with various cone drills, working on backpedaling and coming out of your break to turn and run with a receiver. Good points to remember are to stay low while backpedaling, keep your nose over your toes, then open your hips to initiate your break out your backpedal.
Possessing the athletic ability to be in position to make plays is just one part of the game. Free safeties must also have the ball skills, lightning quick reaction time and soft hands to create turnovers with an interception. The tip drill is a classic standby for defensive backs coaches through the years. A coach will stand in line with two defensive players, spread out by 5 yards or more. The coach will throw a pass that the defender closest to coach will deflect in any direction and the second defensive back is charged with intercepting the pass. It is a simple drill that can transform a defense into a turnover machine. Free safeties are expected to make big plays when they have the ball in their hands, so sprint to the end zone every chance you get in practice.
Free safeties are required to be sure tacklers and an intimidating presence all over the field. Safeties must limit big plays, and as the last layer of defense, the safeties can be the difference between a modest gain for the offense and a play that goes for a score. Angle tackling drills are most beneficial for safeties, because they have to make plays from sideline to sideline. Pick an angle that will allow you to get your head in front of the ball carrier. Always make a tackle with your shoulders and keep your head up, or see what you are hitting, as some coaches preach. Finish the tackle by wrapping the ball carrier up while exploding through the ball carrier with your hips and driving with your legs.
A big part in becoming a great safety is being able to diagnose plays before they even begin. Watching film of an opponent can give you an idea of what the offense likes to do out of certain formations or you might discover a pre-snap read that will help you get in position to make a play. You can also find out if an opposing player has any tendencies, like what route they might run when facing a certain coverage look or how a quarterback might tip his hand before he throws the ball. The defense is always reacting to the offense, so they are always one step behind. Study up and try to level the playing field before the play even starts.
Youth football workouts must incorporate several elements. A program for young players must make the most out of limited practice and conditioning time while emphasizing safety. The workout should focus on strength development, cardio conditioning and agility training and should also include dedicated time for practicing position-specific drills and implementing game plans.
The shuttle run acquaints youth players with the start-and-stop explosiveness necessary in typical football plays. Players line up along one goal line, run full speed to the 10-yard line, stop, turn and then run back full speed to the initial goal line. They repeat the exercise, but this time they run to the 20-yard line and back. For the next shuttle run, they will go to the 30-yard line and back. The specific distances should be set according to age group ¨C players in the youngest divisions should run shorter distances. Use cones or markers to delineate the shuttle stations for your players.
Basic body weight exercises are extremely effective for developing functional strength and power in youth players at all age divisions. The exercises require little to no equipment. Pushups, pullups, situps and planks are all effective. Football-focused exercises like burpees, which provide foundational strength in both the upper and lower body, are ideal for youth players ages 10 or older.
Basic agility drills will develop crucial motor skills necessary to compete in football. Effective activities include ladder drills and zig zags. Ladder drills are simple. Place two agility ladders on the ground side-by-side, have the players line up at one end and then run through them, making sure each foot-fall lands within the boxes created by the ladders. For zig zags, place a series of cones separated by up to a yard of space and have players run through the cones in a back-and-forth pattern.
Football training for young players presents unique challenges, but the processes that support their safety will help reduce injury. During practice, teach the fundamentals for all drills and cap the duration of practices to a length appropriate for the age group. Be on the lookout for any and all signs of injury, however minor, as well as extraordinary fatigue or any level of dehydration.