Athletes share essential exercise tips and healthy lifestyle recommendations for all

Let’s move! You’ve heard it from your parents. You may have heard it from your friends, colleagues, coaches, and loved ones too.

On Olympic Day 2023, the world’s best athletes are joining the conversation to get you moving.

We asked Olympic champions, Olympians, and Olympic hopefuls to share how you can make exercise a part of your daily routine while loving every minute of it, whether you’re a fan of the outdoors or prefer to exercise under a roof, whether you like summer or winter, light yoga or heavy barbells.

“Exercise for your body is very, very important,” Indian badminton player and two-time Olympic medallst P.V. Sindhu told Olympics.com. “Being an athlete, we do regular exercise for so many hours but I think for the people out there, I would (hope) that this campaign will inspire a lot of them. I hope each one of them will come out and do some sort of exercise and that way they can keep themselves healthy.”

Let’s move: Getting out of the rut

Have you ever made a resolution to start exercising, but when the alarm goes off in the morning, you reach for the snooze button?

Don’t feel bad. Elite athletes have those moments too. But they also know how to get over that hurdle.

Moroccan taekwondo athlete Nada Laaraj rewards herself for her training sessions – sometimes as many as three per day – with a trip to the beach on the Cote d’Azur. For South African surfer Sarah Baum, who spends most of her day on the beach, the reward can be something as simple as a tasty morning beverage.

“We all have those moments for sure, when I’m like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to get out of bed’,” Baum told Olympics.com. “So you can always just give yourself an incentive if you get up and do your exercise, if it’s stretching, going for a walk or run, whatever it is. If you drink coffee, you go, ‘OK, I can have a coffee after that’, or ‘I can have a fruit juice or something’.”

Sarah Baum’s top healthy habits: “Don’t forget to drink lots of water. Make sure that you’re eating right and clean and not much alcohol. You can have a little bit of alcohol, but not too much. Make sure you’re eating the right foods. Definitely exercise. Just getting up and going for a walk, it doesn’t have to be anything crazy. A walk down the road is is all you need. A good sleep. Technology can can keep you awake and keep the brain moving, so just putting your phone down 45 minutes before you go to sleep.”

As an outdoor athlete, French canoeist Maxime Beaumont is not only dealing with early morning alarms but also fickle weather.

Motivation to go paddling can hit rock bottom when it is raining or snowing, but the Olympic silver medallist has found a way to shift his perspective.

“I won’t hide this from you. There are days in the winter, when it’s zero degrees, when it snows. It’s not always easy to pick up the paddle and the boat,” Beaumont told Olympics.com. “But I always try to find the positive side. I try to find something positive in the session. OK, the weather isn’t good, but it will allow me to work on something. For example, if there is wind and waves because it is winter, that will allow me to train for difficult conditions. We are doing an outdoor sport so it is possible that in August there will be a lot of wind and waves, and so this will allow me to train for the day of competition when it will be complicated.”

Maxime Beaumont’s top healthy habits: “A very good, varied lunch but consistent with doing sports during the day. A little bit of flexibility during the day, a little stretching, a little mobility, that can be yoga, pilates, or just stretching. See people. Whether it’s in training, but also in social life, not to be closed in on yourself. Discuss, talk with people, be open, also be curious about a lot of things. And last point, have a good sleep, full nights where we go to bed not late. If possible, have a little nap. It’s not always possible, but if you can take a nap at 12 p.m., that’s the best.”

Olympic champion Monica Puig also had to learn how to battle negative thoughts. Her new mentality came especially useful after retiring from playing tennis, when she took up a gruelling new hobby – marathon running.

“One way that I battle my inner demons is quieting the negative thoughts in my mind and shifting a negative thought to positive,” the Puerto Rican athlete told Olympics.com. “A lot of the times when I’m running a marathon, I say, ‘I don’t want to be here. Why am I doing this?’ And I tend to shift that focus to ‘I get to be here and I get to do this’. A lot of people would love to be in my position and I’m actually doing this right now. So I tend to push that thought out of the way and reshape my thinking so that it’s more positive.”

Greek surfer and competitive bodybuilder Alexandra Kolla recommends getting a personal trainer or consulting online resources when starting an exercise routine. The Huberman Lab, a podcast hosted by a tenured professor from the Stanford School of Medicine, is her personal favourite.

Fitness experts, whether online or in-person, can advise on good form and also add motivation, Kolla said.

Alexandra Kolla’s top healthy habits: “Eat whole foods 80 per cent of the time. Eat rice, eat chicken, eat vegetables, something that you make, not processed foods because they have a lot of things like soy and emulsifiers that mess up the amino acid system in your body. Second, get cardiovascular exercise because that would increase your VO2 max as you’re older so you’re going to be able to be independent longer in life, without support or oxygen. Third, lift weights. It doesn’t have to be heavy lifting like powerlifters or bodybuilders (do). Just go and lift weights because bone density, as you age, really gets slowed down by lifting weights. Four, have fun. I think happiness is part of health because if we’re depressed, there’s no health, no matter if you do all the other things. And five, go do a comprehensive blood panel to see what’s wrong and needs addressing. The fifth thing might be the detail like, ‘Oh, I’m diabetic because I was born that way so I need insulin’ or something like that. The fifth is going to be specific to each person.”

For Kenya’s Hellen Obiri, a two-time Olympic silver medallist in the women’s 5000m, even self-talk is enough motivation to get moving.

“You’re a timekeeper for yourself. Don’t wait for somebody to be a timekeeper or to wake you up. You just wake yourself up and go out there and focus and work hard for what you want to do,” she told Olympics.com. “First of all, you target your goals. What’s my goal this year? Or, what’s my goal this week? And to focus on your goals.”

Two-time Olympian, Brazilian table tennis player Hugo Calderano, agreed: “It all comes from within you, if you really have a goal, if you really want to do it. Nobody’s going to convince you to become healthier, to exercise more. People can help you with that, but I think it has to come from yourself.”

“If you really have a wish and a goal to make a change in your life, first you have to decide you’re going to do it. And why not start right now? Why wait for tomorrow or for Monday when you can do it right now?” – Hugo Calderano to Olympics.com

Let’s move: Morning and night-time rituals

If self-talk is not enough to get you jogging straight out of bed at this point, BMX freestyle Olympic champion Logan Martin has another suggestion.

“The best advice I could give someone that struggles to work out or go for a walk or anything like that is to dress up like you are going to go to the gym,” Martin told Olympics.com for Olympic Day. “Put your trainers on, dress up like you are going to the gym, and that almost gives me the motivation to then start working out.”

As much as he loves gym attire, however, the Australian rider is often still wearing pyjamas when he starts doing his first running laps.

“My morning routine pretty much consists of chasing the kids around the house, getting them dressed and getting them ready for the day,” Martin said of his early cardio session. “There is a little bit of exercise in running around after them.”

While chasing toddlers around the house isn’t for everyone, many athletes encourage incorporating exercise into a morning routine.

Stretching and low-impact exercise, such as yoga, is one simple way to start moving.

“The main thing that I do when I wake up in the morning is do a little bit of dynamic stretching,” USA figure skater Ilia Malinin told Olympics.com. “It really warms up my body a little bit to go through the day so that I’m not walking with a really sleepy body. It’s very good to get warmed up before you go into your day because you don’t want to have small, minor injuries that could then affect your sport or your activity.”

Similarly, surfer Baum opts for gentle stretching on a foam roller in the mornings, while breaking athletes often choose yoga as a way to warm up for their intense dance practice.

“One of my favourite exercises to keep me fit is doing yoga,” said Dutch B-boy Lorenzo told Olympics.com. “I try to do it every day because it helps me stretch and helps me loosen up for when I have to practise.”

B-girl Vanessa of Portugal shares that habit: “I can’t move in the morning. My body is very stiff so I think a very nice yoga session in the morning and before bed sometimes is just perfect.”

Logan Martin’s top healthy habits: “Five things I do to keep healthy: drink lots of water, eat nutritious food, go to the gym, go for a walk on the beach, and ride my bike.”

Like Portugal’s breaker Vanessa, many athletes include yoga and stretching in their bedtime routines.

USA heptathlete Anna Hall does core exercises and stretching every night before she goes to bed. She usually sets a timer for 10 minutes and does a combination of core exercises. She then re-sets the timer for another 10 minutes and stretches the parts of her body that feel sore.

Besides stretching the muscles, getting plenty of sleep is another key objective for athletes in the evenings.

USA sport climber Sam Watson avoids eating close to bedtime and tracks his eight hours of sleep, while Morocco’s taekwondo athlete Oumaima El Bouchti turns off her phone to make sure she falls asleep quickly.

Picking an exercise or sport: Endless options

With the morning and evening routines sorted out, it is time to explore the options of what to do in the hours in between.

Morocco’s Nada Laaraj and Republic of Korea’s figure skater Cha Jun Hwan are unanimous in their choice of side sports – running. It is fun and a great way to improve overall fitness, they said.

“I like running, especially in the morning,” Cha told Olympics.com. “Nights are fine, but running outside. The important part is outside. Running outside is always fun because I can feel the weather and I can feel the sunshine or, if it’s a cloudy day, I can feel the wind. It’s always a great time.”

In terms of basic exercises, the squat is the go-to for Brazil’s Hugo Calderano. He advises doing squats four times per week, four to five times per session.

Taekwondo athlete El Bouchti is another fan of squats. She also encourages people to start doing ab exercises and jumping rope.

Even something as simple as going for a walk can have its benefits.

“(There are) benefits mentally, probably more than physically,” New Zealand rugby sevens player Jorga Miller told Olympics.com. “Now with social media and everything, there’s heaps of pressure on body image, but if you just go out for a walk or a light jog or anything, it clears your head and you feel so fresh. And although it may be a bit of a struggle to get off the couch initially, once it’s over and once you’re actually doing it, it feels so free.”

From chore to habit: How athletes build an exercise routine

Whichever exercise or sport you choose, athletes agree that the goal is to make moving a daily habit. And they have some tips for how to stay on track.

For USA athletics star Hall it is a case of quickly bouncing back from every broken exercise streak.

“I establish my routine by building habits and never missing twice in a row,” she said. “Building a routine is pretty hard so it’s really important to me if I mess up one day and don’t find the time, making sure that the next day I do.”

UK B-Boy Kid Karam suggests identifying the most productive part of the day and scheduling exercise in that block, while Monica Puig keeps a daily planner to track her progress.

“I check it every single day before I get my day started and I start checking things off,” Puig said. “Those types of things build consistency, and once that consistency gets flowing, you fall into a routine and it just becomes another thing, another part of your daily life.”

Consistency is the key, so rather than doing a lot of exercise in one day and none the next, athletes encourage spreading exercise across the week.

“It’s also important to not to rush things. I think at the beginning you can set a goal for yourself to do it, maybe even for five minutes a day. I think it’s enough to start. The hardest part is to start. And once you start, you get rolling and things are much easier,” table tennis star Calderano told Olympics.com. “Just do a little bit every day. It’s better than to do a lot in one day and then to do nothing for a few days. The most important thing is consistency.”

B-Boy Kid Karam’s top healthy tips: “Five things that I do to keep healthy, physically I stretch. I definitely need to stretch because I do a lot of physical activity. There’s a lot of load on the body, so it helps me stay sort a nible, stay ready for what happens over the next days. I try to eat five a day, every day. I think it’s very important to do that just because of the energy levels. I try to drink two to three litres of water a day to stay healthy, stay fluid. One thing that I also do is sometimes I take some old Asian remedies. So like turmeric, ground turmeric, and milk, it’s an old remedy and it heals the body from the inside. And another thing that I do is I use the spa at my local gym. I try and go in the sauna, go in the steam room just to keep my body, fresh and healthy for training for the next days.”

Olympic Day: Let’s have fun

While making the body stronger is a mission worth pursuing in itself, there is another important piece of advice that athletes want you to know: Don’t forget to have fun.

“Find a sport like surfing. So if you’ve never surfed, paddle out on a surfboard,” Greek surfer Kolla said. “Maybe some form of exercise that is also pleasure can work for you. Go climbing, go surfing, go hiking, running, windsurfing, paragliding, anything outdoors. A lot of people love that and they don’t see that as exercise.”

Also, don’t forget to invite friends.

“The best exercise is always to have fun, to be surrounded by people you like, you love,” German 3×3 basketball player Svenja Brunckhorst told Olympics.com. “Basketball is such a cool sport. You just go out there, ball a little bit and I think it’s the best thing.”

Let’s Move on Olympic Day 2023

A special batch of Olympic Day GIFs and stickers will be available to fans around the world on major messaging platforms, while the #OlympicDay hashtag on Twitter will come to life with a limited-time emoji. Instagram and TikTok users will have a chance to try out new Olympics AR effects. Fans around the world will also be able to get inspiration from their favorite Olympians’ workout tracks by tuning in to a selection of Spotify playlists curated by athletes for the occasion.



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