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Personal Health Plan
My research project is to develop my own personal health plan. My plan will include a variety of elements that focus on my participation in the collegiate sport of baseball. Having participated in sports my entire life, I have long realized the importance of physical training, which will enhance my chances of success on the playing field. My plan will go beyond physical training and include other important elements personal to me and take into account my entire well-being.
The first aspect of any plan is to conduct a needs assessment by identifying the baseline data of exercises performed. This will measure areas like strength, flexibility, and endurance. The Mayo Clinic provides a comprehensive online guide that will help with this type of initial assessment. (Mayo Clinic, 2017) The guide includes ways to measure features like strength, endurance, aerobic fitness, and body composition.
Next, it will important to evaluate my nutritional needs. If one exercises more frequently, one needs to have a diet that returns good nutrition to the body. A proper diet for athletes should include consuming appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, low levels of fatty foods, and drinking plenty of fluids. Web MD has a listing of these items in their article from 2012. (WebMD, 2012)
It is also noted that one can’t ignore the importance of having a well-balanced approach where mental, emotional, spiritual, and social concerns are taken as seriously as exercise and nutrition.
After establishing baseline data, the next step is to set goals to improve in the areas of fitness and nutrition. Here’s where I will look at my personal data and set goals for improvements in the areas listed earlier.
All these goals will be set with the help of a fitness trainer or strength & conditioning coach. I’ve benefited from such services and will continue to take advantage of them. UNC Health has a blog post that mentions 5 benefits of a trainer (UNC Johnson Health Care, 2013). Among others these include faster/better results, proper fat loss and muscle gain, diet and a reduced chance of injury. I can vouch for these features as I’ve been led by coaches who’ve helped in these areas of conditioning. UNC Health Care claims in this same posting that a trainer who is engaged with you in your effort to improve your fitness levels, can help you with continual motivation – especially when reaches a plateau and gains (improvements) are not as prominent in the plan.
Proper athletic nutrition is important. A competitive athlete needs to avoid foods and drink that do not promote optimal performance. There are many guides available online to help establish a balanced food or meal plan. I recently reviewed a guidebook by Marni Sumbal, entitled Essential Sports Nutrition: A Guide to Optimal Performance for Every Active Person. (Sumbal, 2018) Sumbal provides an overview of recent research in sports nutrition and the importance of timing your eating for best results. She also shares some easy to follow recipes appropriate for both the professional athlete and the casual weekend jogger.
Part of my Personal Health Plan concerns the general wellness areas that deal with the mental approach that needs to be improved, too! Improvements in the mental and emotional health are as important as physical conditioning and a following a proper diet.
Ralphi Wald wrote a book, “The Seven Practices of Mentally Superior Athletes.” In the text, Wald discusses the importance of the mental side of athletic performance. Some of the ideas explain how to clear one’s mind to be better focused before, during and after competition. Wald believes having routines also can help the athlete focus more, too! All the mental skills taught by Wald in the book, can lead to greater confidence that will hopefully be sustained over a longer period of time.
To track fitness goals and improvements, I plan to keep a log of my activities that details the exercises I’m completing (eg: weights lifted, miles run), These written documents will help me determine if there are improvements toward the goals I’ve set. By tracking my exercises, I can stay motivated to keep working toward the goals I’ve set. In addition, I plan to keep track of my diet in order to monitor my nutrition levels. All the documentation is important in order for me to identify areas of weakness that will need to improve in both exercise and diet.
For this project, I will establish goals in the areas of strength (Bench Press and the Squat); nutritional (daily caloric intake); endurance/aerobics (800 meter run and the 40 yard dash); and body composition (Body Mass Index or BMI measurements). Here is a chart that represents my personal baseline data and the goal I’ve set for my personal health plan.
|800 M Run||2:35||2:10|
|40 Yd Dash||5.5||4.5|
I’ve written SMART Goals to accompany this chart and to represent the improvements I hope to make. Here are three examples:
- I will lift weights in the gym 3 days/week for the next 8 weeks in order to increase the amount of weight lifted from 145 lbs to 220 lbs. lift on the bench press
- I will complete a regimen of run training 3 days/week for the next 8 weeks in order to decrease my time in the 40 yard dash from 5.5 seconds to 4.5 seconds.
- Through regular exercise/training sessions at least 3 times/week and with improved diet, I will improve my BMI measurement from 28 to 23.
Many athletes utilize electronic fitness apps (eg: FitBit or Apple Watch) that when worn, help to track personal health data that can be beneficial in evaluating a personal health plan. These electronic devices can help you measure things from your miles run to your heart rate, to the amount of sleep you get overnight. One can also input information into the FitBit that helps to track food and calorie intake you have and then guide you to making adjustments in your diet. Although, I don’t own a FitBit or Apple Watch, I do have an app that is on my iPhone that has some of the same features. Even a casual observation of the app shows me some basic information that can help with my fitness health plan.
In the end, my personal health plan will be evaluated best by my success (or lack of success) on the playing field. If I can reach my fitness goals, I believe that ultimately, my level of play and personal game statistics will show improvement as well.
- Johnson UNC Health Care (January 28, 2013). Retrieved from https://johnstonhealth.org/2013/01/5-benefits-of-a-personal-trainer/
- Mayo Clinic Staff (March, 2017) How fit are you? See how you measure up. Retreived from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/fitness/art-20046433
- Sumbal, Marni. (2018) Essential Sports Nutrition: A Guide to Optimal Performance for Every Active Person. Emeryville, California: Rockbridger Press.
- Wald, Raphi (2019) The Seven Practices of Mentally Superior Athletes. New York: Routledge.
- WebMD (2012) 5 nutrition tips for athletes. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/nutrition-tips-athletes#1
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