Good Definition

Your primer on the brave new world of wellness


Number of hours running (or equivalent exercise) per week men need in order to achieve a 30 percent lower risk of impotence

Most forms have the same goal: to increase blood flow, thus loosening tight muscles and joints, which speeds your body's recovery from physical stress. Lucky members of the USPS Pro Cycling squad receive a deep-tissue massage after every competition during race season, but Dave Bolch, a massage therapist for the team, advises massages year-round: "Go once every month if you can. You'll still help your muscles heal."

This process of attempting unbroken concentration on your breath or a chant has moved from the realm of the spiritual to the mainstream. A common variation on meditation for athletes is visualization, where, say, a downhill skier envisions a successful race-course run. Practiced daily, both meditation and visualization clear the mind of distractions and focus it on the task at hand, making you better prepared to overcome any obstacle.

The core-conditioning program developed by Joseph Pilates during World War I was embraced by ballet dancers when Pilates opened his New York studio in the 1920s. The discipline uses full-body movements that simultaneously stretch and strengthen the core muscles of the torso, improve the body's alignment, and focus breathing for maximum efficiency—all without adding bulk to your frame. Cyclists, runners, and other endurance athletes employ Pilates workouts twice a week or more to add power where it matters: the torso.

Rest is probably the one element of overall health you ignore first. You need close to eight hours of shut-eye each night, along with periodization training, in which you incorporate a couple of days or weeks doing light or no exercise, to get stronger. Your body will thank you with a sharper brain and a reduced chance of burnout.

According to its daily practitioners, this Chinese martial art utilizes slow, graceful movements to build up life force (chi) and reconcile opposing forces within the body. The typical results are improved mental focus, controlled breathing, and better coordination and balance—skills that will aid you in any sport.

An approach to eating that increases energy levels, fends off illness, and keeps you in top form. Eat five to nine servings a day of fruits, nuts, and vegetables, in addition to unprocessed cereals and oats and free-range meats—the foods our bodies evolved with over thousands of years. The key is to avoid processed products like chips, bleached-flour bread, hot dogs, and, of course, Cheez Whiz.

The practice originated in India more than 3,500 years ago in several different forms, but it's hatha, the most physical form, that athletes from the NBA to NORBA have embraced. In the U.S., hatha mostly blends elements that use highly aerobic flowing movements with those that focus on the nuances of stationary poses. Two to three yoga sessions per week will result in increased flexibility and coordination, more efficient breathing, and faster recovery times, and can lower injury rates. Visit Vail, Colorado's Yoga for Athletes studio and you may run into skier Jonny Moseley using a hatha-based program to reduce the stress that mogul skiing pounds into his body.

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