Who is an Athlete?

Who is an Athlete?

We hear the term “athlete” thrown around in a variety of situations in our daily lives. Especially now, given the commencement of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, all eyes and minds are on the athletes, and it makes one wonder, what does it take to actually be an athlete? 

To answer this question, we could all research the regimens, diets, and backgrounds of every Olympic athlete from present day through history to the very first Olympics in Greece. Or, we could turn to Merriam-Webster, and ponder their definition of an athlete as someone who is, “proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.” However, these options seem limited. Certainly any Olympic athlete deserves the title of athlete, given the sheer amount of physical demand one must withstand to make it to the games, but Olympic athletes only represent a small percent of our world’s population; therefore, they only represent a small percent of who we define as athletic.

Merriam-Webster’s definition also has its limitations. The word proficient is broad and open to individual interpretation, as is the term “physical exercise.” To some, physical exercise may be equal to walking up and down the stairs at your home 5-10 times a day. To others, nothing less than a 5 mile run may seem enough to count as physical exercise.

So, instead of studying the histories of famous athletes, or abiding by the definition in a dictionary, all we need to do is look around us and be open to seeing athletes in all shapes, sizes and situations. I think you’ll be surprised to find that athletes are merely people who are:

  1. Determined– An athlete is a 63 year old, mother of 3 adult children, grandmother of 1, determined to achieve her peak physical fitness by dedicating 4-5 days to working out in her office gym.
  2. Passionate– An athlete is a 27 year old leisure runner who may not run long distances, but who loves running enough to do it almost every day
  3. Hard-working– An athlete is a 35 year old single parent who balances work, childcare, house-care, relationships with family and friends, self-care, and his/her sanity, burning more calories in a day than many of us combined!
  4. Playful- An athlete is a 6 year old running around a playground, climbing on the jungle gym, and swinging cares away on the swing set.
  5. Active- An athlete is a 40 year old CEO, constantly moving from place to place, running their business smoothly, and taking on physical, emotional and mental challenges at every turn.
  6. Strong– An athlete is a professional competitor, exhibiting physical strength that sets them apart from the rest, and exhibiting emotional and mental strength and fortitude that allows them to handle the stress that accompanies playing a professional sport.
  7. Self-Confident- An athlete is a 50 year old man or woman, recovering from an injury or other physical setback in life, who has the self-confidence to know that they will recover and be active once again.

So, in the end, athletes are all of us. The qualities that professional athletes, gym rats, and distance runners possess are no different than the qualities that each one of us has within. We are all strong, proficient and physically capable; we are all athletes. Once we realize this, we have a responsibility to ourselves to take the best possible care of our bodies and minds. Anjuna Medicine offers a variety of acupuncture and massage therapy treatments that can help us take care of the strains, injuries, and stresses of our everyday, athletic, active lifestyles. At Anjuna, we want to make healthcare easy and accessible for everyone who is looking to stay strong, active, determined, hard-working, playful and confident.