Another academic year is coming to an end and wisdom has been gained… no more so than in PE 505. Seventeen graduate students studying coaching and sport psychology undertook the challenge of playing sport science mythbusters in their final papers. They examined topics ranging from exercise during pregnancy to inspiratory muscle training to various diet trends. After sitting back and listening to these topics being discussed, some common messages became clear:
Un-Brand Your Wellness. Trademarked fitness and nutritional programs are well intentioned, yet tend to drift towards extremes and promote a rigid view of health and exercise. Wellness zealotry seems too often to be unwell in reality. Trademarked programs are exciting and provide unique twists, the wise consumer supplements them with some wise traditional health decisions.
Coaching Matters. Even the best workout program can go terribly astray when under the watch of an under-qualified fitness instructor. A good coach is appropriately credentialed and modifies programs to individual wellness needs. The American College of Sports Medicine and National Strength and Conditioning Association are two organizations that can assist in the process of considering personal trainer credentials.
Healthy Risks. Sport and exercise comes with risks. Running long distances can beat up the body, but with appropriate rest and recovery it makes good sense for mind and body. High school football comes with the all too scary risks of head trauma, yet in a well coached environment the exercise and self-discipline benefits cannot be overlooked. Being sedentary and gluttonous has little wellness value, play hard and often.
Excess = Unhealthy = Injury. There are so many interesting and motivating ways to exercise, diet, and live well. This being said, excess in any are counterproductive. It is fun for youth ball players to pitch - yet a high pitch count is far more dangerous than throwing curveballs was once thought to be. Exercising during a normal pregnancy seems to be healthy - adding intensity that trumps pre-pregnancy levels can prove to be dangerous for mother and child. Exercise balance while exercising.
Putting a scientific mind to the fads, trends, and truisms of exercise is an important process. The landscape seems to be littered with new diet books, fantastical fitness programs, and health technology that beeps and buzzes. There truly seems to be something for everyone. That being said, the above notes allow for most wise investments of time, money, stress, and strain. The academic’s eye belongs beyond the ivory towers of colleges and universities, but in the gyms, on the fields, and everywhere that play happens.
If you are interested in reading the work of these sport science students from Boston University's School of Education drop me an e-mail. Topics for the semester included: the paleo diet, juicing, inspiratory training, neurofeedback training, concussions in high school football, sport specialization, Crossfit, youth throwing curveballs, pilates, yoga for rehabiliation, post-workout recovery drinks, pre-workout drinks, ultramarathoning, exercising while pregnant, and more.
Dr. Adam Naylor leads Telos Sport Psychology Consulting and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Boston University’s School of Education. He has a decade and a half of experiences working with professional through amateur athletes – of note: US Open competitors, NCAA champions, Olympians, Stanley Cup winners, and UFC martial artists. Beyond sports, over the past five years he has served as a corporate performance and wellness consultant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ahnaylor.