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Women’s soccer finally got some attention – for the wrong reasons – when Elizabeth Lambert (right) played dirty and was watched by millions around the world. (Patrick Smith)
Women’s soccer finally got some attention – for the wrong reasons – when Elizabeth Lambert (right) played dirty and was watched by millions around the world. (Patrick Smith)

Lessons Learned

Eight stories that rocked the fitness world Add to ...

1. Aging is no excuse for skipping the gym

A record-high 28,292 competitors attended the World Masters Games in Australia this fall, and industry watchers reported that the 50-plus crowd is the fastest growing segment of the health club market. Fitness experts say boomers are fashioning a new approach to exercise that's focused more on healthy aging than six-pack abs, which just goes to show, a touch of arthritis needn't glue you to the couch.

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2. Hair pulling is wrong - at least if you're busted on youtube

If the cameras hadn't been rolling, we may never have been introduced to Elizabeth Lambert, who punched, tripped and yanked the ponytails of opposing players during a U.S. collegiate soccer match. While her coach kept her on the field and the referee issued only one yellow card, Ms. Lambert's heartfelt apology and team suspension came only after millions of appalled viewers watched her antics on YouTube.

3. Helmets aren't just for kids

The debate over helmets ignited when actress Natasha Richardson died after falling on a beginner ski run on Mont Tremblant in Quebec. A 13-year-old boy had died on an Ontario ski hill a week earlier. Neither skier was wearing a helmet. Their deaths inspired calls for mandatory helmet use for children under 13, with some safety experts saying skiers of all ages should be wearing protective headgear. The case jolted Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty into wearing his own helmet.

4. Gay jokes aren't okay - even in the locker room

When Brendan Burke, son of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, announced that he was gay, much of the media coverage focused on how he was warmly embraced by his famous father and the Miami University hockey team that he helps manage. Yet Burke quit playing hockey because of homophobic slurs tossed around the locker room. While a high-profile professional athlete has yet to come out publicly, Burke said people need to realize that gay people play hockey too - and when you make derogatory comments, you could be hurting a friend.

5. Pregnant? Skip the ice cream and hit the gym

As if expectant moms don't have enough to worry about. New guidelines issued by the U.S. Institute of Medicine this year warned that when women gain too much weight during pregnancy, it can result in a host of serious health problems for both mother and child. This was welcome news, however, for entrepreneurs behind StrollerFit and a slew of other fitness programs targeting women pre- and post-pregnancy. Someone pass the pickles.

6. Concussions are serious head injuries

Two major studies on the long-term effects of concussion - by researchers at the University of Montreal and Boston University - showed that just one major hit to the head can cause premature cognitive decline, even dementia. Everyone from the NFL to non-contact kids' hockey leagues are now finding ways to decrease the impact and properly treat concussions in sport. The old push to get back out on the ice after "getting your bell rung" is a thing of the past.

7, Muscular arms are sexy - on women

Her husband may have sailed into the White House on a message of change, but Michelle Obama's toned arms made news, too. Now pipes join butts and boobs on the list of desirable female attributes. With her signature sleeveless dresses, the First Lady inspired women everywhere to start pumping iron.

8. Brains need a workout, too

As the boomers enter their golden years, their determination to delay age-related cognitive decline has inspired both researchers and entrepreneurs. While the jury's still out on the effectiveness of the slew of brain-exercise products that hit the market this year, the consensus is that mental fitness can be just as important as physical fitness when it comes to aging well.

 

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