Statistics show that more Americans are obese than ever before and despite the craze for exercise and joining a gym, many people would do well to add to their existing regime. Playing sports is not just a fun pastime and social experience, but it is an easy and quick way to lose weight and feel confident and secure. The health benefits of athletics are legion, so pick a sport and get out there for a change of pace. For example, you can play organized team soccer or just have a casual game. Whatever you do, it totally counts as a workout if done for a sufficient period of time, even scrolling on Facebook. I am a personal trainer, so I hope my opinion counts. As a fitness buff, I can’t ignore the calorie-burning outcome of a rousing soccer match or even practice session. I tout circuit training in the gym and all kinds of toning alternatives; but I know in my heart that nothing is like a fast-paced game of soccer. Okay, you can swim, play baseball, basketball, or football—you can even go bowling. As long as you are moving, my goals for you will be met.

Let’s take a look at the health benefits of soccer. It builds agility and endurance for one. Who doesn’t want that? While it is recreational and competitive, it can be played for exercise to improve cardiovascular health and increase aerobic capacity at the same time. Just think of all the running that takes place. Soccer players are known for their fast recovery from a sprint. I am told that the average player runs five to seven miles during a game, based on what I’d read in Top Corner Magazine. Wow! They must have good hearts. No plaque buildup for these folks. If you are worried about aging, get in a game now.

Other health benefits include lower blood pressure, reduced body fat, and increased muscle tone and strength. Switching from aerobic to anaerobic energy pathways does a lot of good. There is so much variety between the kicking, jumping, tackling, not to mention twisting and turning. It is a powerful and explosive activity in which the whole body is utilized. It doesn’t end here. Better bone strength is a byproduct. As a trainer, I appreciate how soccer teaches coordination (especially hand eye) and fosters the ability to complete complex movements by turning, dribbling, and passing. Players must execute these feats at different rates of speed and in opposing directions. What a way to build confidence and self-esteem.

I believe in any game that promotes teamwork and sharing. Thus, beyond the physiological benefits, there are also psychological ones. Think of the camaraderie and social enrichment. I would add the benefit to cognitive brain function in terms of concentration, self-discipline, and strategy. Some say sports, like exercise, reduces anxiety. I know that I feel better when I have maximum physical strength. It impacts not only sports and workout performance, but also how you do in school, your career, and family life. Give me those fabulous feel-good endorphins!

I am all about health and fitness in life. My goal is to convert more people to a regular practice of exercise. Going to the gym has caught on big in recent years, but you don’t have to spend a bundle to stay toned and honed. There are budget gyms and you can also buy equipment (such as weights and balls) and work out at home. In fact, when you clean house, often the bending and other repetitive motions are akin to what a professional trainer tells you to do. Deep cleaning the bathroom involves many muscles of the body. You are doing knee bends and are rubbing and scrubbing with vigor which affects the arms and upper body. You can make household chores fun and invigorating if you look at them from the right perspective. You may not resemble a super model without using gym equipment and starving yourself, but you will look and feel better for sure. A chore goes from being drudgery to accomplishing a life goal. It could be raking leaves, using a power washer on the sidewalk, washing the car, or polishing chrome. Add to this list cleaning the pool, mowing the lawn, doing some basic woodworking projects like the ones here, and vacuuming the drapes. It all works to get you moving and losing weight. The point here is that you are doing two things at one time.

As a trainer, I like to give a few tips now and then to make things safer and easier. For example, never bend over without flexing your knees. If you are reaching up high, be sure you are balanced so you don’t topple over. Watch any power equipment or sharp tools you use so you don’t get hurt from inattention. Use a dusk mask to protect your nose and mouth from fumes. These can arise from a gas-fueled tool or from toxic cleansers. If you are concerned, there are “green” products that do not contain things like bleach or ammonia. Try to vary your chores if you are tackling multiple problems in one day. It would be like circuit training. Don’t execute the same movements for too long lest you get achy and sore. After doing chores as an exercise routine, you will learn how to control the wear and tear on your body.

Apart from wearing a dust mask, there are other ways to protect your hands, feet, and face. You don’t want to spill or splash potent chemicals anywhere in your vicinity. I am thinking here of toilet bowl cleaners and the like. Drain unclogging solutions are often the culprit. There are many more tips in blogs to come. For now, start a new agenda in your life and get to work. You don’t need to clean house on days you go to the gym or jog for miles. Plan out a reasonable schedule for yourself as long as it is regular and you stick with it.