…in fact, most players never recover – Football players have the shortest professional lives of players of any other sport. Not only do the have the most injuries during the NFL season, they often don’t live long after they STOP playing either.

And it turns out you don’t need to participate in sports to get the benefits: just WATCHING them on TV can be beneficial… EXCEPT for professional wrestling, can lead to a life of crime!

The Mayo Clinic discovered that 82% of NFL players under age 50 had abnormal narrowing and blockages in their arteries, compared to the general population of the same age, meaning that former players face increased risk of experiencing high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke.

Researchers aren’t sure exactly WHY this is, but it could be a side effect of bulking up in order to play the game, meaning that retired NFL players are more prone to obesity and obstructive sleep apnea than the general population. Also, retired NFL players have an increased rate of metabolic syndrome, a condition increasingly linked to excess weight and lack of activity, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. In other words, the right genes for football are often the wrong genes for living a healthy life.

No one knows if watching football on TV leads to teen violence, but adolescents who watch professional wrestling on television are more likely to be involved in violence, sex without birth control, and other risky behaviors.

The more often young people watch wrestling, the higher their rates of risky behaviors. Psychologist Robert H. DuRant says, “[W]e can only conclude that as the frequency of watching wrestling increases or decreases, the health risk behavior associated with it also changes.”

The study was based on a telephone survey of over 2,000 young people, aged 16 to 20, across the United States. 22% percent of males and 14% of females said they had watched professional wrestling on television over the past two weeks.

Survey respondents who said they had tried to hurt someone with a weapon watched 67% more wrestling than those who had not tried to hurt anyone. Those who had engaged in sex without birth control watched wrestling 42% more frequently than those who used birth control. Smokers watched wrestling 31% more often than nonsmokers. For each one additional time watching wrestling over the past two weeks, the rates of violent/risky behaviors?including having sex without birth control, fighting with a girlfriend or boyfriend, or threatening or harming someone with a weapon?increased by up to 19%. A youth who watched wrestling more than six times was more than twice as likely to have engaged in any of these behaviors.

Youths with higher family incomes watched more wrestling than those with lower incomes. Surprisingly, respondents who drank alcohol watched wrestling less often than those who did not drink.One way to avoid injuries is to avoid playing serious sports, but we all want our kids to get the exercise and expertise that comes with athletics. Being a couch potato and watching sports on TV may not improve your body, but it turns out that just being a FAN of sports improves the parts of the brain that are usually involved in PLAYING sports?as long as the sport being watched isn?t wrestling!The research that revealed this was conducted on hockey players, fans, and people who’d never seen or played the game and showed that a region of the brain usually associated with planning and controlling actions is activated when players and fans listen to conversations about their sport. Researcher Sian Beilock says, “Experience playing and watching sports has enduring effects on language understanding by changing the neural networks that support comprehension to incorporate areas active in performing sports skills.”

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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