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Healthy Is -- playing baseball (and more)

Healthy Is -- playing baseball

My friends over at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have initiated a health awareness campaign called "Healthy Is." People are invited to write in to their Web site with their ideas, and those ideas have run the gamut -- napping, running, eating well, rock climbing ... even spending time with family.

OK, so that last option may be open to debate, but if you are one of the thousands of fans who consider the Red Sox a part of your family, it rings true right about now. The boys recently wrapped up another series sweep of the Yankees and are at this moment relatively injury-free. But staying that way takes some work on their part because, playing ball alone, even 162 games, won't do it.

Unless you are a pitcher or a catcher, baseball is a game with long periods of inactivity punctuated by short bursts of exercise. Batters get up maybe four or five times a game. But even walking to the plate counts for something, according to Carine Corsaro, exercise physiologist at the Tanger Be Well Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

"It's not always vigorous or sustained, but the in-game activity would contribute to what we refer to as unstructured exercise and help the players accumulate the recommended 10,000 steps per day," Corsaro said.

Ten thousand steps amounts to about five miles of walking. Kevin Youkilis would have to make his way from the dugout at Fenway to his position at first and back about forty times to go even one mile. That's a lot of extra innings. On the other hand, left fielder Jason Bay and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury would cover a mile every nine innings. And remember, that's only 20 percent of the baseline.

"According to the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association, the minimum recommendation for structured cardiovascular exercise is three days a week of vigorous intense exercise for 20 minutes, or five days a week of moderate intense for 30 minutes," Corsaro explains. "The minimum recommendation for strength training is two nonconsecutive days a week, performing eight to 10 strength training exercises, eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise."

Professional athletes have a great financial incentive to meet or exceed those recommendations, and generally they also have the time to do so. You and I have days filled with work, watching kids, food shopping, and long internal discussions about whether a second piece of cake is OK as long as we skip the ice cream. Who has the time? Carine Corsaro would ask, "How much time do you want?"

"The long-term benefits of a consistent exercise routine are well established. Cardiovascular exercise can help manage blood pressure, glucose levels, cholesterol, help improve mood and relieve stress," she says. "It lowers the risk of heart disease. Weight training can be crucial for weight management and can help prevent or manage osteoporosis. We not only want to live longer, we want to be in shape to enjoy it!"

Healthy is listening to the Red Sox game on the radio while you're taking a walk. A walk that would be a whole lot less stressful if they had a seven- or eight-game lead on the Yankees by the All-Star break. I guess that will have to wait for the next campaign ... "Greedy Is!"

Gary Gillis is a contributor to MLB.com. The BID Injury Report is a regular column on redsox.com. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is the official hospital of The Boston Red Sox. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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