NFL

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Broncos star WR Wes Welker share benefits of sports to develop healthy lifestyles

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Wes Welker recognizes all the benefits he's gotten from sports. He believes anyone can prosper from them.

So the star receiver of the Denver Broncos has joined the Global Alliance for Health and Performance, a movement to promote and develop a healthy, high-performing lifestyle using best practices from sports.

"I've experienced all the ups and downs firsthand," said Welker, heading into his 11th NFL season despite being undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2004. "Understanding all the emotional hits and how to come back from them, as well as the physical. No one ever really talked to me about it, now it all kind of makes sense to me.

"I understand the edge you have to have on the field and the energy you get from it, and from just working out. Bringing that energy to whatever you are doing, every single day."

The aim of the alliance is to make that happen for everyone, from elite athletes to the guy who sits on his couch on Sundays watching Welker catch touchdown passes.

Jack Groppel of Johnson & Johnson's Wellness and Prevention and co-founder of the Human Performance Institute recruited Welker. Groppel believes the benefits from learning how professional athletes not only train and recover, but harness that energy can provide lessons for everyone.

"We've learned how athletes are merging energy and performance better," Groppel said. "About their emotional toughness, their resilience. How focused they are. They are aligned to a mission and it really matters to them."

Being active is critical, whether it's Welker working out on his own or with the team or the average Joe and Jane getting some exercise. Groppel notes how studies show students who get up from their desks to perform some physical activities, whether at recess or during gym time, perform much better afterward.

The alliance calls that "taking a page from the sport science playbook to improve health and productivity."

His program emphasizes daily progress and how to achieve it, rather than simply getting through the day and on to the next one. Athletes tend to have an achievement mindset all the time, and others can learn from it.

Welker is more the "everyman" who succeeded among superstars in the sport. At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, he's hardly imposing physically. He had to prove himself just to make an NFL roster with San Diego, then in Miami, and built himself into a solid contributor.

Then he went to New England and became a pass-catching machine, an All-Pro and a regular in Super Bowls — three so far.

Fans can relate to Welker like few other NFL players, and may embrace his message about what keeps him physically, mentally and emotionally sharp.

"Physically being trained, my body gives me confidence mentally, too, when I feel that way," he said. "You get the mindset that 'nobody can touch me.'

"Emotionally, you understand how to regulate your emotions. If I dropped that pass, OK, it happened, now we won't let it happen again and you are on to the next play.

"There are peaks and valleys and you handle that by staying on your task through preparing physically, mentally and emotionally. Remember what is your 'North Star,' why you do what you do."

Of course, most people won't succeed on Welker's level, but there's plenty to achieve from sports in general.

"Healthy behaviours are created with every individual on a team, which then creates a healthy organization," Gropper said. "There's so much we can learn from sports and the science of sports."

___

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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