Head outdoors for a great cross-training workout

The best thing about being a kid is that you never need to step on a cardio machines to stay in shape. You could spend your time as a kid playing sports, or as a teenager in organized sports. The same can be true for adults. It doesn’t feel like work when you’re having fun.

When I was a kid, I loved to play sports. Even as an adult, I play flag football and burn a ton of calories without stepping foot inside a gym. The British Journal of Sports Medicine even found that playing recreational soccer improved oxygen intake and helped burn fat. In the study, 36 men were divided into two groups, a control group that just ran for exercise and a second group that trained for one hour two to three times a week for 12 weeks.

The soccer group improved maximal oxygen uptake (a measure of aerobic fitness) 62 percent more than the running group. The soccer group also lost an average of 50 percent more fat than the running group (6 pounds vs 4 pounds).

The researchers concluded that participation in recreational soccer training has significant beneficial effects on health profile and physical capacity and in some aspects it is superior to frequent moderate-intensity running.

What does this tell us?

Well, think about soccer. The difference is more than adding a ball while running. Soccer is essentially a form of interval training. It involves moving in multiple directions while jumping, running, head-butting, sprinting and kicking.

In other words cross-training. By incorporating several types of training styles, you can condition different muscle groups, improve skills in a variety of activities and limit your boredom by varying the exercise routines. Because of the variety it allows your body will be better prepared and perform better whether you decide go swimming, skating or dancing.

You can add cross-training to your workouts too. Try exercises you enjoy that keep you motivated. Some ideas for cardiovascular conditioning include:

• Biking
• Swimming
• Running
• Jumping rope
• Speed and agility drills
• Skating
• Tennis and other racket sports
• Calisthenics (jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers)
• Outdoor planks and yoga poses

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