Op-Ed: Sports Are Fun, Health and Fitness Are Important; Set Your Goals Then Make Them Priorities

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The winter holiday season is my favorite time of the year. I think many people would agree with me on this statement. However, my reasons for loving this time of year may differ slightly from most. I love the holiday cheer, the time with family, and the kindness that seems to come with the season. But to me, this time of year means so much more.

I’ve spent the last 23 years coaching basketball and teaching exercise and fitness. The winter holiday season, more so than any other time of year, reminds me of the value of sport and fitness.

We all know what comes with the holiday season — lots of eating, drinking, and being merry. For me, and many others, part of being merry involves watching sports. It may be watching your children or family members play in a holiday tournament. It may be the annual Thanksgiving football games that many people watch on television. Among my personal favorites are the countless college football bowl games.

Whatever it may be, sport brings us together in ways few other things can. As a college basketball coach, I spend countless hours in gyms over the holiday season. I am amazed yearly at the support given to local high school athletes. I love hearing the stories of “back in the day” that go with the tradition of holiday tournament play. I remember my own experience as a player like it was yesterday. To me, and many others, the holiday season and sports go hand in hand.

This time of year also brings about a focus on health and fitness. We all know that along with the holiday cheer comes an indulgence of a few extra calories. And soon after that, the optimistic New Year’s resolution, that most of us forget about in a week.

The older I get, the more I realize how important my health is. As a professor of exercise and sports science at Lincoln Land Community College, I try to make it a habit to practice what I preach. As challenging as this may be during the holidays, there is no better time to engage in healthy habits.

I encourage people to keep it simple. Decide what a realistic goal is during this time of year. Set your goal ahead of time, and then make it a priority.

Everyone is different. Just remember that any exercise is better than no exercise. Find a regular time each day, and dedicate that time to simply being active. Once the challenging season is over, continue with that time, and make it more focused.

More:Springfield-area girls high school holiday basketball tournament schedules, results

The holidays don’t have to be a time of regression in health and fitness. Drink lots of water, get your sleep and don’t feel guilty about eating a cookie.

No time of year gives us a better opportunity to support our endeavors in sport and fitness and to support those of others. Hopefully, you will be motivated to get moving on your own and take those first steps. If you aren’t there quite yet, get out and support your local teams. They might motivate you in your own journey!

The sporting and fitness communities are known to welcome people with open arms. I invite you to come out to campus to cheer on the Loggers at an upcoming game. At various times of the year, you can catch volleyball, basketball, soccer, baseball, and softball competitions. It would be great to see you at a game at Lincoln Land Community College. We have some amazing things happening here. For a full schedule of sporting events and additional information, visit lincolnlandloggers.com.

If you do come for the first time, don’t be a stranger. Sport and fitness have brought so many people into my life, a true blessing for me. I can only hope it will do the same for you.

Chad Jones is a professor of exercise and sports science and head women’s basketball coach at Lincoln Land Community College.

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