Abe Lincoln once said, “If I had eight hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.” This is the mindset we should have as we enter a more active sporting season—be prepared!

From increasing energy and self-confidence to reducing the risk of injury, there are a great many benefits to an active lifestyle. Whether heading to the softball diamond, tennis court or the golf course, being ready to play has such a tremendous upside that it should excite us to take that extra step. But failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Let no excuse stop you.

Train Like the Pros
When we watch sports on TV, we see the finest physical specimens in the world. Why can’t we see more of that in ourselves? Why not try to get ourselves in the best possible physical condition? I admire those people we all know and see every day—you know, the folks who run 5Ks or half-marathons, or even attempt to tackle the triathlon and Ironman competitions. They don’t just wake up, get out of bed and run the race. They prepare. Those of us who enjoy the many other sports out there should look at this as a model to replicate. It should be a source of inspiration to train our bodies to be ready.

Why not train like the pros, or better yet, like we once did when we were in high school or college? Grab the youth still inside of you and find that energy that is bogged down by reports and meetings. You may find it more invigorating on those courts, fields and courses with this recaptured youthful energy. The better we feel, the better we can perform, both in our personal and professional lives. I think everyone can find the time, we just need some motivation.

To find the motivation to train for more energy and better conditioning comes down to one major item—your goals. Coach Lou Holtz once said, “If you are bored with life and don’t have a burning desire to get up in the morning, then your problem is you do not have goals.” What are your goals when you play? Is it winning an outing or competing in a competitive event? Is it getting back in the game or just staying healthy?

Whatever your goal is, you must have desire to achieve it, and training your body will go a long way in helping you. Why wouldn’t you want to give yourself the best opportunity for success? As a professional in the workforce, you strive for greatness—make this your habit in everything you venture into. Having goals and attaining them, or at least striving to attain them, will help build self-confidence and a belief in yourself that can manifest into your work and family life. It will give you an answer to any excuse that you or anyone else burdens you with.

Stay on the Field of Play
Ultimately, we should all prepare for an active lifestyle in order to reduce the risk of injury. Sometimes we look at this as trying to eliminate the big injuries—a torn ACL or heart attack, for example—but do not lose sight of repetitive and minor injuries as well. Getting our muscles and joints ready to take on the physical demands of our activities is vital in prolonging the time we are able to perform them. We look at those top athletes and get the idea they are trying to get an edge to go faster and jump higher when they work out. Many are trying to get the edge by keeping themselves on the field of play. This should be our mindset—to stay on the field of play.

You would hate to miss time from work due to an injury suffered the night before at a softball game or a corporate golf outing. But how many times have you had that next-day soreness, ache or pain and just couldn’t perform your best? These nagging aches are the ones that can provide more hours of unrest and loss in life productivity than, say, an ACL tear. Back, neck and joint pains can make getting through life tough. We may look at the sport in which the incident occurred, but ultimately, it was a lack of preparation that set us up for the fall.

So now what? Excuses or actions? It is now time to execute: getting you to be the best you can be. Do not simply read an article and mimic a routine or plan because it worked for the person in the story. Conduct a self-analysis. What do you need? Some need to rehab an old injury while others may want to get back in and try to be our old selves. Are you running and jumping? Are you swinging or throwing? What do you need to do to be the best within your means?

Set a goal, then see what it is going to take to get the body ready to achieve it. Seek advice or assistance if need be. Do not make excuses for being able to take action. Once your goal is set, finding time is easy. It may be a few minutes a day, maybe more. No matter what, make sure it has set you on a path to take part in your activity of choice and set the course for you to be better. For as Zig Zigler said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” iBi

Eddie Papis, CSCS, USAW is the Wellness Center director and Athletic Enhancement director at Hopedale Medical Complex.