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The Wellness Game: What Being Healthy Really Means to the NFL Player

By Troy Vincent
NFL Player Engagement

“Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), writer, biologist, and physicist

What brilliant advice! Although I can’t say that I know much about Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, I do believe that these wise words are speaking directly to me – so much, in fact – that I want to share this significant message with others.

Not only does he stress the importance of taking care of our bodies, he also points out that maintaining good health and wellness is a lifelong commitment we need to make first to ourselves and then to our families.

Unfortunately, that kind of personal promise to our own lifelong health is something we often sideline during the exact years and the precise time in our life when we need to be practicing prevention, eating healthy, and taking responsibility for our own health.

When you consider how much we rely, or have relied, on our bodies while we are out on the football field, we owe it to ourselves to make our health and wellness a priority, even and especially when we are consumed with the game of football.

As part of team engagement, we are continually updated with the latest medical research and data regarding professional athletes and health lifestyle issues. All of these current studies are prepared by nationally recognized medical experts in the fields of cardiology, cardiovascular medicine, endocrinology, obesity, sleep, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, and epidemiology and include statistics revealing that heart disease is the number one cause of death for professional athletes.

Interestingly, together all these contemporary studies, including what Goethe said a few hundred years ago, clearly point out the obvious: we must pay attention to our physical bodies – today and everyday – for the rest of our lives.

Regardless of age or family or personal health history, it is prevention, proper maintenance, and a healthy lifestyle that experts say can significantly contribute to a player’s overall physical and mental well-being and help reduce an athlete’s chances of developing health issues such as diabetes or heart disease

Even if a player feels that he is in perfect physical condition and appears to be the picture of good health, there are many important and daily steps he can take to ensure that good health continues to be one of his greatest strengths and assets.

Simply put, in order to win at “the wellness game,” committing to health and wellness isn’t something that can be delayed until the offseason or put up on the shelf until your NFL playing days are over. Owning our bodies, including accepting responsibility for the maintenance and monitoring of our health, is something that needs to be happening right now.

Ironically, professional athletes – those focused on their physical abilities on a daily basis – tend to neglect their personal health in the most basic and essential ways.

We train hard – and we need to – as we believe we are playing one of the most physically demanding games in the world. But training for the game of football does not necessarily ensure that we are working toward our overall goal of achieving good health for a lifetime.

Winning our own “wellness game” requires the same resolve, determination, and commitment we give to the game of football. Unquestionably, it is the most important game of our life.

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