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Y ou may be familiar with the phrase, “You don’t officiate to get in shape. You get in shape to officiate.” Considering the speed of today’s athletes, that’s certainly true. From the start, officials need to be able to keep up with the action in order to make the right rulings. But there are more health benefits than one may realize from spending time on the field or court.

1. Burns calories.

Any full-body physical activity burns at least a few calories, and officiating certainly counts as physical activity. How many calories you burn while officiating is determined by weight and fitness level. The heavier and less fit, the more calories will be burned. But even the most fit officials can easily burn 300-400 calories or more in each game, regardless of the sport.

2. Reduces stress.

Contrary to popular belief, officiating can help reduce stress. Sure, there are intense moments — while making a tough call, for example — that can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure. But active participation in exercise such as a sporting event can do wonders for relieving tension, anxiety and depression. One may even notice a “feel good” sensation as you walk off the field or court immediately after a well-called game.

3. Improves brain health.

Much like physical abilities, cognitive abilities such as memory and attention need regular exercise as well. Officials are not only expected to have a superior understanding of the rules but are also required to, in a split second, see, react and enforce those rules. That consistent mental exercise can do wonders for the overall brain health.

4. Builds camaraderie.

Staying socially active has been shown to lower risk for age-related cognitive decline and dementia. Officiating provides a social setting in which men and women come together in the sake of a common interest. That regular social interaction and feeling of connection is great for one’s mental health.

5. Improves cardiovascular health.

The physical activity derived from officiating is important to one’s overall health. According to the American Heart Association, just 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week can greatly improve your cardiovascular health by lowering your blood pressure, boosting your good cholesterol, improving blood circulation and keeping your weight under control.

6. Provides better sleep.

There is a lengthy list of health benefits that come as a result of quality sleep, but many adults have a hard time getting the recommended six to eight hours of shuteye each night. Both the physical and mental workout that takes place while officiating can help tire the body and mind enough to help catch those needed Zs. With proper rest, one is less likely to crave sugary, fatty foods that provide quick energy but no long-term health effects.

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Note: This article is archival in nature. Rules, interpretations, mechanics, philosophies and other information may or may not be correct for the current year.

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