With lockdown still in place, it is essential to keep youth athletes both mentally and physically active. Spare time can often be a place where people become inactive, unmotivated and develop unhealthy habits. Knowing what to do when you are resting from training or school work is necessary for a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Top 10 Tips
1. GET PLENTY OF SLEEP: Sleep is vital to keep physically and mentally healthy. For youth athletes, sleep is needed for recovery, rest, and to recharge batteries ready for another training day alongside academic work.
Without enough sleep athletes are at risk of illness, sports injury and even development of chronic diseases. Therefore, adjusting training schedules to increase the duration of sleep is important and has been shown to have a significant positive effect on areas of athletic performance in youth athletes .
2. PLAN YOUR DAY: Making a simple ‘to-do’ list on your phone or in a journal each night can help you prioritise your tasks and help you get the right balance between workload, training, and time for yourself to structure your day (morning, afternoon, and evening). Throughout the day review the list and tick off the things when you achieve them.
3. MAKE BALANCED AND NUTRITIOUS MEALS: Having a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients and tailored to meet your training demands is vital for improving performance and recovery in youth athletes.
Diets rich in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, sea food and nuts, low in red meat, moderate in dairy products and limited processed foods including saturated and trans fats, added sugars and sodium have been linked to improved mental health outcomes . Therefore, it is key for youth athletes to eat well to feel and perform well.
Or, why not head over to the recipe section of our blogs to discover more healthy, tasty and simple dishes to make.
4. GET OUTSIDE: Why not occupy your time with a walk in the fresh air – it can be long or short, with your friends/family or even just by yourself listening to music or a podcast or even just your own thoughts.
This will not only help you relax but also ensure you get the health benefits and health outcomes which are associated with exposure to the outdoors .
5. READ A BOOK: Choose a genre that suits you and start reading. It will help distract your mind and transport you to someone else’s world whilst also giving your eyes a rest from screens which is especially important during lockdown.
6. WATCH A MOVIE: Take some time for yourself to relax, put your favourite movie or tv series on and switch off from the world around you.
Watch it with friends or family and you could even create a weekly movie night to all sit down together and relax with your favourite snacks.
7. LISTEN TO MUSIC/PODCAST: Putting on your favourite music playlist or listening to a podcast can not only boost your mood but it has been shown to improve overall mental health, social connections and even treat individuals suffering with certain mental health conditions .
So, next time you are feeling low put on and turn up your ultimate music playlist and have a sing and dance!
8. DO YOUR TRAINING: Benefits to youth athletes physical and mental wellness have been associated with exercise and participation in sport .
Not only will exercise and training enhance your sports performance it will aid mental wellbeing and contribute to an overall healthy lifestyle.
9. RING FRIENDS/FAMILY: Keeping connected with friends and family is important especially during the current lockdown.
It helps you feel close to your loved ones and chatting to someone different can help lift your mood and brighten up both of your days.
10. LEARN A NEW SKILL: Why not use this time to do something you have always wanted? Whether this be learning a new sport, baking, cooking, crafting, learning a new language or even just starting a new hobby such as painting – get creative - we guarantee you will feel better for having a go at something new!
 Copenhaver EA, Diamond AB. The value of sleep on athletic performance, injury, and recovery in the young athlete. Pediatric annals. 2017 Mar 13;46(3):e106-11.
 Hosker DK, Elkins RM, Potter MP. Promoting mental health and wellness in youth through physical activity, nutrition, and sleep. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics. 2019 Apr 1;28(2):171-93.
 Twohig-Bennett C, Jones A. The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental research. 2018 Oct 1;166:628-37.
 Wang S, Agius M. The use of music therapy in the treatment of mental illness and the enhancement of societal wellbeing. Psychiatr Danub. 2018 Nov 1;30(Suppl 7):595-600.
Article written by Annie Skidmore- BSc Sport & Exercise Science Student