What’s one of the most popular sports to watch in Canada?
It has to be ice hockey. In 2021 alone the Stanley Cup — the championship and trophy awarded to the NHL playoff champion — was watched by 15.6 million people in Canada. And the sport continues to grow in popularity as new generations get into the game.
Of course, there’s lots of reasons why ice hockey has become something of a national emblem for the country, and probably it’s most popular sport. The cold climate in the winter months makes for lots of space for ice hockey rinks in local parks and on frozen lakes.
And while research has shown that some of the earliest forms of ice hockey were shaped in England, from the 1870s onward Canada made some incredibly important contributions to the game, and indeed shaped and took ownership of the sport from the early 20th century onwards.
Some of the most famous and prolific ice hockey players have come from the country too. Most people will recognise the name Wayne Gretzky, But Sidney Crosby, Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux and Maurice “Rocket” Richard were all from the nation and went on to have successful careers both in Canada and beyond.
There are many places for Canadians to enjoy the game, whether it’s in stadiums, their local bars and places where they can bet on it and hope the sports betting odds are in their favour – including online. It’s an exciting sport to watch and that’s due in large part to the degree of athleticism that’s required to play ice hockey.
But how do the top ice hockey players stay in shape? Read on to find out more.
Yoga, and other forms of balance training, might not be the first you think of when you consider what professional athletes do to stay fit. But balance training is incredibly important as it gives the person body awareness and helps to decrease the likelihood of injury.
Balance training including yoga also helps with your coordination and improves things like joint stability. As balancing on hockey skates and manoeuvring around other players alongside the hockey puck requires coordination, balance training is incredibly important as part of any training routine.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-Intensity Interval Training has become incredibly popular over the past decade and there’s a good reason why. It’s a fantastic way of conditioning your body, burning calories and packing in a lot of exercise time in short bursts and then spending a short period resting.
Hockey is a game that requires speed and an explosiveness that you don’t always see in other sports. The high intensity nature of this type of training makes it ideal for hockey, but also can be integrated into almost anyone’s workout plan as the benefits go beyond sport.
One of the best parts is you don’t need any additional equipment for a HIIT workout. Just your body and an open space to complete the workout – which could be a park, your backyard or even a large space in your house.
Like many other sports, full body workouts are important for hockey as the nature of the activity requires every element of a player’s body to be strong. Strength training is an integral aspect to getting players to peak physical condition — which includes everything from weight training, to exercises that only use body weight and more.
It’s important that as part of strength training, whether you’re a player or just looking to improve your health, that you don’t isolate any muscles in particular or become too focused on one part of the body. There are many great full body strength training programs available online, so it’s worth doing your research to see what’s right for you.
Cardio Finally, professional hockey players will be working on their cardio both on and off the ice. The game is demanding and your ability to have endurance is incredibly important. Cardio definitely helps with that. There’s a huge range of fitness activities available that can help support cardio, from running and rowing to the cross-trainer, stair stepper, swimming and more.
Of course, some of the other activities on this list including HIIT do help with cardio too. Even a good hike can help boost your cardio levels. The important thing is to keep moving and get your heart rate up, which good players will know.