Points from a Pro

NFL player Nnamdi Asomugha explains how to get fit.

THEARON HENDERSON/GETTY IMAGES

In 2007, the National Football League (NFL) launched NFL Play 60, a campaign aimed at keeping kids in the United States healthy and physically fit. A specific goal for the campaign has been to reduce obesity among kids. An obese person is someone who is excessively overweight to the point where his or her health is endangered.

Choices spoke to one of the Play 60 spokesmen, Nnamdi Asomugha, about health, fitness, and nutrition. For the past eight seasons, Nnamdi has played defensive back for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders. Here’s what he told us:

You don’t have to be an athlete to be physically fit. “It’s a misconception to think that you have to be on a sports team to be fit,” Nnamdi says. “There are many ways to be healthy that have nothing to do with team sports. For instance, walking to school or riding your bike to school, as opposed to riding the bus, is a great way to get exercise.”

Think 60. Health experts recommend that teens be physically active for one hour every day. Nnamdi agrees, but he wants kids to know that those 60 minutes of exercise can be broken up into different intervals to accommodate your schedule. “You don’t have to play basketball for 60 straight minutes,” Nnamdi says. “You can do an activity for 20 minutes and then later do the same or a different activity for 20 minutes, and then do something else later for 20 minutes.”

Don’t sweat it. You can exert your body without perspiring a lot. Nnamdi says the length of time that you are physically active is more important than sweating a lot or breathing really hard.

Have as much fun as possible. “Most activities are more enjoyable if they’re fun to do,” Nnamdi says. Just remember to stay focused on what you’re doing so that your body will get the full benefit.

Watch what you eat. “What you eat makes a huge difference in your health,” Nnamdi says. He encourages kids and teens to include fruits and vegetables in their diets and to stay away from junk food as much as possible. For instance, “it’s better to drink water or juice than to drink soda,” Nnamdi says.

Physical activity can improve your mood. “When you are in good shape, you feel better about yourself,” Nnamdi says. “Exercise relieves stress, and it also helps keep you alert and more awake.” That will help you focus in school. “You’ll pay better attention in class,” he says.

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