The best of 2010 makes for good advice for 2011

This is the time of year when looking back helps give direction for the future. After reviewing the “Healthy Sports” columns for 2010, it is clear that several themes developed:

• Many people faced with chronic illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s Disease fare better when they are involved in a fitness program. Yoga, dance and a combination of aerobic and resistance exercises can slow disease progression and improve symptoms. Remaining active is crucial when putting together an effective treatment plan.

• The long-standing effects of repeated brain trauma continue to be a focus of concern and research. This year, a connection between repeated head trauma and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) was proposed. While this theory garnered a great deal of notoriety, much more research is needed before any conclusions can be made. It is encouraging to see many athletes who have been involved in violent collision sports now donating their brains for postmortem analysis.

• An area of national concern is safety in youth sports. This pertains to all sports where the participants are younger than 14. The lack of medically trained personnel in attendance, the violent nature of the individual sport and the fact that children are more susceptible to catastrophic injury are all factors that have heightened awareness. Thanks to this increased level of interest, USA Hockey is considering raising the age where checking is allowed to 14. A symposium sponsored by the National Football League and the American College of Sports Medicine will convene next month to address urgent safety modifications in youth sports.

The most rewarding trend is knowing that “Healthy Sports” readers continue to be active and safe in whatever sport they choose.

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