You should eat regular meals and have a healthy snack at least 30 minutes before exercise. If you have a long training session or a sports tournament, don’t forget to take a snack with you. Fresh orange slices are deliciously refreshing (especially in the heat!), and bananas are great for instant energy—they’re also the favourite snack for many world-class athletes.
You need to drink plenty of water because as soon as you start running around, you will begin to feel thirsty. Also, in Qatar’s hot climate, you need to be careful to make sure you are well-hydrated before exercising. A glass of milk (containing protein, B-vitamins, iodine and calcium) or fruit juice (containing vitamins and minerals) are both ideal pre-sports drinks. Energy drinks aren’t generally a good idea as they contain a lot of caffeine and are often loaded with sugar.
Without a doubt, water is the best drink for hydration, and you need to be drinking one to two litres (around six to eight glasses) of water a day. If you don’t drink enough water, you are unlikely to perform at your best, and you risk running out of energy, getting a headache, or feeling sick. You need to sip water regularly as you work out, so don’t forget your water bottle. If you drink enough before, during, and after exercise, you will feel, perform, and recover better.
Avoiding injury is key to getting fit and staying strong. All athletes warm-up, cool-down, and take care when working out to prevent doing damage to their bodies. There’s a reason that footballers on the bench jump around on the sidelines during a match! You should warm-up for around five minutes before playing sports. Yes, that’s right—the school PE teachers know what they’re talking about when they send you for a few laps around the football pitch before a match! As well as preventing injury, a proper warm-up improves performance—and we all want to win!
After exercise you should cool-down to help your body recover and prevent stiff muscles, aches, and pains. Any exercise that slows down your heart rate is a good start, such as jogging or brisk walking. After that, it is important to stretch properly to avoid injuries. Your coach will show you a stretching routine for you to follow. A few basic stretches include:
- Reaching for the sky – stand up tall (on your tiptoes for this one) with your arms above your head, elbows touching your ears and reach as high as you can.
- Side stretches – stand up tall, with your arms straight above your head, elbows touching your ears, join your hands and slowly stretch, leaning to the right and then to the left.
- Touch your toes – stand up tall with your arms straight above your head, bend forward from the hips and keep your legs straight. Now try to touch your toes!