Can the playoffs put your health at risk?
It’s the bottom of the 9th, the bases are loaded and there are two outs. Whether your team is on the verge of winning or losing, your body is likely feeling stressed and your adrenaline levels are high. But could watching the game actually put your health at risk?
Yes and no, according to Dr. Julie Brandies, an internal medicine physician at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill.
“Getting emotionally invested in a sporting event can be stressful on the body, but short-term stress won’t harm the average person,” says Dr. Brandies. “A lot depends on how you experience sporting events. Are they a relaxing time with friends or are they stressful and competitive? It makes a world of difference.”
If you’re the competitive type and are already facing high stress levels or suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease or other chronic illnesses, it could matter. Especially for those fans that get very emotionally invested in their favorite team.
“This is exactly why I quit watching college football years ago,” laughes Dr. Brandies. “It stressed me out so much that I decided it wasn’t worth watching live anymore.”
While stress is an obvious side effect of life on the sidelines, you may want to watch out for these other dangers, as well.
The Snack Zone
Whether you’re at home with your significant other or at the ballpark enjoying the crowd, odds are snacks and drinks aren’t far from reach. In moderation, a bowl of pretzels and a beer aren’t going to cause harm, but the calories can add up quickly if you’re not paying attention.
“Someone who watches two or three games a week may not realize how many calories they’re packing in,” says Dr. Brandies. “It can be even worse if you’re at a stadium. Between the pizza, hot dogs and stadium specialties like churro-stuffed donuts and mac-and-cheese topped sausage, you’re not likely to eat light.”
Dr. Brandies suggests having a filling meal before you leave the house, so you’re less likely to overindulge in high-calorie treats. Or, if you’re watching from home, set yourself up with healthy snacks or consider alternative ways of cooking some of your favorites to give them a healthier edge.
The Couch Potato
There’s a lot of new research out there about how bad prolonged sitting is for our health. Fortunately, this is one risk that can easily be avoided.
“Try to stand up and stretch during commercial breaks, or walk on a treadmill while you watch,” says Dr. Brandies. “Exercising before or after a game can also decrease your overall stress level, which can decrease your risk of heart disease or stroke.”