He's the man who won 115 England football caps, and is recognised the world over, but David Beckham is more than just a sporting icon. He's also a committed family man, and a passionate believer in the value of wellness and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. During the third annual AIA Vitality Summit, recently held in Sydney, we spent some time with the superstar footballer and got his sage advice for living a fulfilling - and healthy - life.
Make your #onechange
Go for a run or walk in your local area - whether it's through a park, along the beach, or around the block. It's free and - even better - it's good for you.
There's no magic trick to good health
As an elite athlete, David knows all too well that there's not a shortcut to the top. "There's no real special tips or tricks that I've learnt along the way" he says.
Instead, it's about consistently putting in work that your body will thank you for. "Having a career where I needed to be healthy - to eat and drink the right things - set me up for after I finished playing." That kind of discipline is likely to pay dividends in other areas of your life, as well. "That really has extended into the business and travel world for me" David reflects.
While investing in yourself is important, it's also useful to remember that you're setting an example for those around you. "I want my children to see their dad still fit, still healthy, eating the right things (most of the time), and staying hydrated" says David. "It's important for me as a parent to set the right example for my children."
Strike a balance
Healthy eating habits are certainly necessary, but you don't have to be pious one hundred per cent of the time. "Balancing a diet is an important part of being healthy. I'm not saying that you have to eat healthy every single minute of every single day - because for most people that's impossible" says David.
Instead, build a system where indulgence and exercise can co-exist. "I love food, but I also love to work out. You can enjoy something that you wouldn't eat every day, but you balance it out by going for a walk or run, or taking the kids to the park."
Find an exercise you can stick with
If you're able to turn your workouts into an activity that you genuinely enjoy, you're more likely to stick with them long-term. Of course, that can present a challenge when you're a world-class athlete. "Because I played a high level of sport for quite a few years, I get bored very quickly with workouts" says David. "I jump from going for a run to rowing to cycling. I can do six weeks of boxing, and then not do it for six months."
Still, there's bound to be an activity that you can sink your proverbial teeth into. For David, that involves a stationary bike. "The only thing that I've never been bored with is indoor cycling." Find your passion and the rest will follow.
You don't need to spend money to stay fit
For the former England captain, physical activity is an essential part of a balanced lifestyle. "I've been retired from football for five years, and I still enjoy working out. It's an important part of my life."
It's easy to forget that while they can help, you don't necessarily need top-of-the-line gear or paid memberships to stay in shape. Instead, he suggests using what you already have at your disposal in the environment around you. "Just simple things like going for a run on the streets around the city or in the countryside. Things like that make a big difference."
Surround yourself with a strong support network
No matter who you are, you'll face challenges throughout your life. "Whether you're a sportsman, a businessman, or a parent - stress always follows us around" says David. "I was playing professional football for 22 years, and then once it stops - it stops. I was very thankful for the career that I had, but mentally it was a difficult transition."
Being able to navigate these rough patches will in part come down to the company that you keep, according to the soccer star. "I think being able to talk to people is a major thing. Some people struggle with that, but when you are able to talk to someone about how you're feeling and your stress levels, that helps a lot."
What about those days when everything feels overwhelming? For David, that's when he falls back on his failsafe pick-me-up - his family. "The one thing that can cheer me up like nothing else is my children. Either speaking to them on the phone, Facetiming them, or taking them to the park and playing football with them."