Arians finds small ways to combat stress

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Before practice Wednesday, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians started walking.

It wasn’t as much as he’d prefer, but it was more than he’s been doing. For about 20 minutes, he circled one of the Cardinals’ practice fields, getting in a workout that’s evaded him the past two years. When he became a head coach, the time usually dedicated to exercise was taken up by meetings and preparations.

Arians admitted he doesn’t exercise beyond his 20-minute walks, if he even has time for those.

“The problem is, as a coach, if you take 30 minutes, 40 minutes for exercise, you feel like you’re cheating yourself,” Arians said. “You should be working, but really you are working because you’re keeping yourself fresh.”

Stress has always been a part of coaching, but when two coaches are hospitalized in the same week because of heart-related incidents, the stresses of the profession are magnified. On Saturday, Denver Broncos coach John Fox complained about being light-headed while golfing in Charlotte, N.C., which led to him having an aortic valve replaced. Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak collapsed at halftime of Sunday night’s game against the Colts after suffering a mini-stroke.

But this isn’t contained to just pro football. In 2009, University of Florida coach Urban Meyer retired because of health concerns; he is now coach at Ohio State. A year later, Michigan State University coach Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack after a game.

While stress wasn’t cited as the specific reason for their health issues, it’s been an overriding issue in coaching for years.

During Arians’ last season at Temple University, he had three migraines per week.

“The day I got fired, I never had another migraine -- migraines that would put you down,” Arians said. “I know what stress can do to you.

“There are times when stress does things to you mentally and physically that nothing else does.”

Neither the NFL nor the Cardinals have guidelines for coaches and exercise. They leave the decision to take of their bodies up to men who work from dawn until dusk -- or longer -- seven days a week in order to conquer their next opponent.

“They think we’re smart enough to take care of ourselves,” Arians said.