Today is World Chess Day.

Chess is a game of the mind, but also of the body: there’s research that shows that high-level chess players can burn calories the way runners and other athletes do.

ESPN took a look at this phenomenon a few years back.

To play chess the way grandmasters do requires extremely intense concentration and focus.

Players are thinking through situation after situation after situation, and that gets their hearts beating faster.

The increased heart rate causes the body to produce more energy and more oxygen.

Some studies have found competitors in chess tournaments can burn 6,000 calories in a day.

It can be hard for some players to turn off that focus on chess even when they’re not in a match.

Some end up eating less or skipping meals, and they can have trouble sleeping because they’re thinking and re-thinking their matches.

All of this can take a toll on players.

There are cases where grandmasters have lost 10 to 12 pounds in the course of a 10 day tournament!

To keep up their health, strength and ability to play, some top chess players have developed some very serious fitness and diet regimens.

Cardio and strength training can help keep these players’ bodies running smoothly while they’re focusing on chess.

And they’re careful not to eat or drink anything that might make them tired or groggy during a match.

Some players have even reworked how they sit during competition, because they say leaning over the table too far puts pressure on your neck and unnecessarily uses extra energy.

Then, when the tournament’s over, they give their minds and bodies a chance to rest… so they can start getting ready for the next tournament.

Today in Pulaski, Wisconsin, it’s the start of Pulaski Polka Days.

The four day festival includes plenty of music and dancing, plus a concertina jam session tonight.

The grandmaster diet: How to lose weight while barely moving (ESPN)

Pulaski, WI Polka Days

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