It helps to keep exercise fun as much as possible. If you hate doing exercise, you will quit at some point. By its routine nature, cardio can become boring, so you need to mix it up.
Playing games is one of the best forms of exercise because you're focused on the game and not on the exercise (especially if you are in shape to play).
Play soccer the right way and you will get great fat burning benefits. Here are 3 tips:
1. Sprinting when you should sprint will burn major calories and fat. Research has proven that the benefits of anaerobic exercise (like sprint interval cardio) is superior to aerobic exercise for fat loss, fitness and heart health.
Sprinting activates your bulkier, shapely fast twitch muscle fibers. These fast twitch muscle fibers lie dormant when you do slow-paced cardio sessions. Sprinting will really burn the fat on your butt, hips, thighs, hamstrings and lower legs. Fat will also be burned on your upper body. You don't have to be fast, just run as fast as you can.
If you want a faster version of soccer, play in an indoor soccer league.
The progression of your cardio exercise should be low-intensity aerobics to moderate/high-intensity aerobics to high-intensity anaerobic exercise.
2. Soccer is great for developing agility (change-of-direction skills) and balance. This adds more intensity to an otherwise intense form of exercise. Soccer will improve your dynamic balance, power and coordination.
Growth hormone elevations during this type of exercise have been shown to decrease body fat.
3. You should jog (between sprints) when you play soccer. Notice I said jogging and not walking.
You could do some metabolic training to get in shape to play. Metabolic training is a popular and effective method for sports teams. You would also lessen your chances of injury. Many weekend warriors get hurt because they aren't in condition to play a sport at full speed.
Soccer requires constant running---jogging, half-effort sprints and maximum effort sprints. You could simulate an actual game by training this way.
Play soccer once or twice a week if you need a change up for cardio exercise.
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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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