Pandemic healthy living tips: Expert shares LA Galaxy football club’s secrets

MANILA, Philippines — It is not every day that ordinary people will get to know industry practices, especially involving high-profile personalities.

An industry expert shared how professional football club LA Galaxy managed its players to stay fit, active and healthy amid the pandemic, with these helpful tips:

1. Combine technology and training to stay connected. 

Dr. Dana Ryan, director of Sports Performance, Nutrition and Education at Herbalife Nutrition, has been working with the American football club. 

She shared that the pandemic challenged the players and their connections. To address this, the club had to ensure that its players stayed connected through social media and video conferencing platforms to keep them motivated in reaching their daily targets, short-term goals, and long-term progressions while also following their individual diet and training plans.  

They also incorporated technology by providing a variety of tools, like heart rate monitors, Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking units, smart watches, and a sleep and activity tracker. The latter measures and monitors performance data such as resting heart rate, target heart rate zones, distance, high-speed running and sprinting, sleep duration and quality, and fatigue levels. 

Dr. Ryan said that staying connected with fitness and nutrition is not just for professional athletes. She said the combination of technologies with the advice of health professionals can be beneficial because they have the skills to reframe any confusion or feelings of doubt.

2. Maintain trust and a sense of community for a healthy lifestyle.

A popular football club such as the LA Galaxy is used to camaraderie, person support and fanfare. They are used to being with their teammates and coaches 11 months out of the year. 

According to research, camaraderie enhances psychosocial health, competence, character, confidence, and other growth-related factors. 

To help bridge this gap, the team individualized fitness sessions and created nutrition plans to be followed at home. Virtual check-ins are important to maintain human connection. 

“Surrounding yourself with people with the same values will hold you accountable to show up, learn new things, and work harder. It also has a more calming effect than working alone,” Dr. Ryan advised.  

3. Prioritize physical and mental recovery.

There is one thing that needs to be emphasized about recovery. It is an act that does not only affect the physical aspect. 

Dr. Ryan said that as coaches, it is their responsibility to manage the players’ or clients’ stress levels.

“With onsite training back, we are focused on mental health and reducing cognitive loads. With life taking up time and mental capacity, we minimize ‘thinking’ as much as we can. We reduce their stress by maximizing recovery days,” she added. 

These can be achieved by performing varying recovery routines with activities like beach volleyball, pool sessions, and ocean swims. Another addition was allowing the players to sleep in and do recovery yoga via Zoom. 

The players were also reminded to focus on hydration and quality nutrition. Hydrating before, during, and after a workout replenishes nutrients lost during workout, she added. 

“Recovery is important no matter your level of athletic performance. This promotes muscle strengthening and repair. Recovery practices can help you avoid future injuries and will significantly affect your training’s effectiveness. A combination of nutrients is essential for accelerating muscle recovery,” Dr. Ryan explained.  

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