Top Skincare, Nutrition, and Mental Health Musts for Athletes
Unlike regular people, athletes must pay close attention to several factors in their lives to optimize their mental and physical health for better performance during competitions.
This means giving full priority to nutrition, fitness, and other healthy lifestyle habits that could make the difference between winning a gold medal and staying in the low or middle tiers.
In this article, we will comprehensively cover the needs of athletes and discuss the commonly neglected elements that could potentially improve physical performance.
Why is skincare important for athletes?
Being physically active does not mean you can neglect the health of your skin, as the constant exposure to the sun radiation, sweat, makeup, bruises, and other environmental factors can easily precipitate several dermatological conditions, including irritation, itchiness, erythema (i.e., redness), skin dehydration, and blotchiness.
Let’s see how you can improve your skincare routine as an athlete:
Use a cream cleanser
Naturally, the skin is rich in nutrients and oils that easily dry up when exposed to recurrent harsh environmental factors.
Therefore, use a nourishing cream to cleanse your skin instead of opting for a foaming one.
Apply a serum
Serums are vital for supplying your skin with the essential nutrients and preventing inflammation and oxidative stress that occur after chronic exposure to UV light emitted by the sun.
The primary ingredients to look for in serum include vitamins A and C.
Use facial oil
Unfortunately, athletes are prone to losing their skin oils with time, rendering their epidermis dry and non-smooth.
To counter this effect, try integrating a facial oil into your skincare routine to help nourish the cells and maintain the moisture for longer periods of time.
Always apply sunscreen
The worst enemy to an athlete’s skin is the sun. In fact, dermatologists classify the damage caused by the sun in a separate category known as photoaging.
In a 2016 study, scientists stated that the daily use of a large spectrum sunscreen can flatten out wrinkles, reduce age spots, and make the skin look smoother.
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The role of nutrition in performance
The slightest changes in nutrition could make a big difference in an athlete’s performance, which is why you should pay more attention to what you’re eating.
Here are some crucial foods that you must include in your diet for better performance:
Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs)
PUFAs are types of fatty acids that have unstable bonds in their chemical structure. That instability can serve as an extremely potent antioxidant that reduces the risk of several diseases.
PUFAs have also been shown to reduce the levels of LDL in the blood, which is commonly known as bad cholesterol because it’s a major risk factor for myocardial infarction (MI).
In a 2003 paper, researchers found that PUFAs can tamper down several cardiovascular risk factors and improve physical performance in athletes.
What are the examples of PUFAs?
Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs)
Similar to PUFAs, monounsaturated fatty acids have unstable bonds; however, MUFAs only have one unstable bound.
Research shows that MUFAs can be as beneficial as PUFAs in reducing cardiovascular risk factors.
They can also increase the levels of HDL, which helps the vasculature maintain their structural integrity as we age.
Examples of MUFAs:
Nuts, avocados, olives, liquid plant-based cooking oils (e.g., grapeseed, sesame, sunflower, vegetable), certain seeds, and animal fats
Avoid refined sugar and artificial sweeteners
Refined sugar that’s found in most processed food should be your number one enemy!
These compounds are harmful to the body as they precipitate oxidative stress and cellular damage, which negatively impact your physical abilities and predispose you to several diseases.
Learn to read the label of the product you’re buying, and if you see any sign of artificial sweeteners, it is time to back off.
Protein is important!
Unfortunately, not all athletes get sufficient amounts of protein through their diets, which is devastating for the muscular system.
Make sure to speak with your physician or nutritionist about the daily recommended amount of protein your body needs to meet the muscle fibers’ requirements.
Take vitamins and supplements
This method should be left as a last resort if you’re certain that you cannot meet your daily requirements of vitamins and co-vitamins.
Supplements such as vitamins B, C, D, and other natural herbs can provide numerous health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts.
The role of mental health on physical well-being
Psychological stress is often the hallmark of mental illnesses, which can be very damaging to your body.
Despite the fascinating aspects of our brains, they still have limits, including the inability to differentiate psychological stress from physical stress.
Simply put, dealing with professional or personal-induced stress triggers the same physiological reaction as the one you’d expect to see if you’re being chased by a bear.
The primary entity that mediates this response is the sympathetic nervous system, which is often referred to as the “fight or flight” system.
Consequently, your heart rate, respiratory cycles, and blood pressure all increase to prepare your body for “run from the bear”.
Unfortunately, the chronic activation of this system leads to dire consequences, including a significant risk increase in cardiovascular disease, chronic blood hypertension, and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease).
In one meta-analysis, researchers concluded that chronic stress is a major contributor to the increased incidence of some debilitating maladies.
Additionally, athletes are devastatingly impacted by this condition, which negatively impacts their physical performance, mental resilience, and competitive spirit.
An athlete needs to optimize everything about their mental and physical health to reach peak physical abilities, which eventually leads to more chances at winning competitions.
Hopefully, you found this article beneficial and insightful, but if you still have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below.