"Hey, it’s Super Bowl Sunday. I’m gonna have fun... beer, snacks, the works!" Go for it! And here are tips for making the day both fun and healthy for you and your guests. You’ll wake up Monday morning saying, "Wow, I had a blast, and I don’t think I gained a pound!"
Set up a friendly but feisty competition. We call it the "Pritikin Super Bowl Fitness Challenge." It was created by Pritikin Fitness Director Scott Danberg, whose life’s mission is cajoling the rest of us off the couch (and what a helluva job he does!).
Here’s the game plan. (Print out several copies for your guests.)
Divide everyone into two teams. For maximum rowdiness and fun, do your best to put each guest on the team that he or she is rooting for on TV.
Celebration Touchdown Dance
Each time one of the Super Bowl teams scores a touchdown, the same team in your living room does a Celebration Touchdown Dance, and (here’s the best part) the opposing team must copy the dance! Go all out! Include chanting of your team's name, arm movements symbolizing letters of your team's name, dance it up... live it up. Then kick the competition off the couch and have them copy it. (No shortcuts allowed!)
Field Goal Squats
Each time your team scores a field goal, get up from the sofa for 10 body weight squats. The opposing team then performs 15! For guests who have (or say they have) joint pain with squats, they can do seated leg marches instead.
Fumble Ball Push-Ups
For each fumbled ball, the retrieving team gets down on the floor for 5 push-ups; the opposition team does 10 push-ups! (Push-up-challenged guests can do wall, table, or from-the-knees push-ups.)
Interception Arm Circles
For each interception, the retrieving team stands up and spreads out for 15 forward arm circles; the opposition gets up for 15 forward and 15 back arm circles! (For the arm-circle-challenged, any pain-free range of movement using the arms will do.)
For each foul that results in a penalty of yards, the non-penalized team stands and marches in place for one minute. The penalized team hoofs it for two minutes! Seated leg marching is fine for those with ambulatory challenges. (Alcohol-induced challenges don’t count!)
Quarterback Sack Crunches
For each quarterback sack, the team delivering the sack falls to the floor for 10
abdominal crunches; the opposition then drops for 20 abdominal crunches. (Crunch-challenged teammates can do seated straight leg lifts.)
Half Time Whossiers
At half time, the team winning dances to a Who song ("Awesome band for us baby boomers" laughs Coach Scott). The losing team dances to two Who songs.
If the game is tied, everyone dances two songs!
And during half time, everyone takes a few minutes to stretch and enjoy healthy snacks to fuel up for the second half.
Grand Finale Celebration Dance
At the end of the game, the winning team performs a rousing Grand Finale Celebration Dance that the losing team – yep, you guessed it – must match!
Every movement counts
Do you think all of these get-up-from-the-couch activities are worthless? Think again. Research published just last week in the American Heart Association journal Circulation tracked 8,800 people for six years and found that the more hours they sat in front of the TV, the greater their risk of dying from any cause, especially cardiovascular disease. Yes, this is a duh finding, but there’s more. The findings held true not just for couch potatoes but for regular exercisers – people who put in on average 30 to 45 minutes of exercise a day.
The researchers explained that sure, the sweaty hour we expend at the gym is important for our health, but so are other movements the other 15 hours of our waking day, like getting up from the computer every half hour and walking around. Or even just standing and stretching. Anything that gets our derrieres up is a very good thing because a prolonged period of inactivity, like three straight hours on the sofa watching a football game, slows down our metabolic processes. Into "shut down" mode goes an important enzyme, called lipoprotein lipase, which normally ferries fat from the bloodstream into our muscles. When this enzyme is on the fritz, the fat just sits – and accumulates – in our bloodstream. Not good. Over time, that fat can damage arteries and lead to heart attacks.
So, take advantage of movement opportunities any and all times of the day. Going shopping? Park at the far end of parking lots. Seeing a client? Take stairs, not elevators. Need to make a phone call? Walk while you talk. Watching TV? Get up during the commercials.
And yep, maybe even ditch the remote (as beloved as it is).
These little bits of extra activity can add up to major health benefits. Or, in ever-enthusiastic Coach Scott Danberg’s words: "Have fun, stay fit, eat healthy... Go Team Pritikin! !"