Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sporty Spice: Sport as Exercise


With all the sport seasons that go on each year, the best thing we can possibly do is get into the sports ourselves (when we are not watching, that is). I know I love me some athletes, so I thought we’d look at some athletes and how sports have sculpted their bodies.

Basketball
Kobe Bryant










Basketball can be used to replace some of your cardio exercises. Because basketball involves a lot of repetitive motion, like running back and forth on the court, bouncing the ball, and scoring baskets, it serves as an excellent cardio exercise. Also, because basketball involves heavy contact, it increases your competitive spirit and the feeling of satisfaction that comes at the end of your workout. Do not underestimate the power of contact sports. However, do remember that you need to move to reap the benefits. That means running, jumping, shooting, and bouncing. Just being a member of the team standing on the court is not enough to make you break a sweat. Now if you’re in constant motion during the game, a 15 minute game could more than 150 calories. Additionally, the constant jumping could help to tone up those leg muscles, and the constant shots help to tone up the arm muscles. Try simply throwing a ball back and forth, and you’d definitely feel the contraction and relaxation of your biceps and shoulder muscles.

Football 
David Beckham

No, I didn't call it soccer. I called it Football. Deal with it. Football is a sport that involves constant motion so there is no doubt that you could be putting your body through two 45-minute chunks of serious cardio in one game. However, in addition to the cardio exercise, the constant kicking, turning, and tackling of the ball also develops those leg muscles. The beautifully defined muscles of most footballers’ legs prove that it tones up your leg muscles more than any other muscle in your body. A lot of trainers have actually developed football-based circuit training programs that include squats, skipping, running, dips, and a bunch of other exercises. This shows that football itself is simply a combination of many of the popular exercises put together. Pick up football today and tone up those legs! 

Tennis
Maria Sharapova
If you have ever watched a tennis match, you can tell from their grunts that it requires a lot of physical strain. The constant running back and forth serves as cardio and helps burn fat. The power required to serve properly certainly works on those arms and shoulders. The bouncing back and forth serves to work on the butt and thighs. And because it is mostly a one-on-one sport, the competitiveness and concentration put into a game improves mental focus.

American Football
Reggie Bush
Yes, American football also involves a lot of speed and so there is obvious fat burning benefit. But aside from the cardio benefit, a lot of the strength gained from this sport may be gained from the training as opposed to actually playing. American footballers require strength to hold down or resist their opponents, and most of this strength is not gotten from the actual game, but from the training for the game. However, consistently playing the sport builds a little on this strength as well. Other benefits of playing this sport are the brain power and speed you develop from the quick thinking that is required to play well. And of course, as I said about contact sport earlier, the feeling of satisfaction you get at the end relieves a lot of stress as well.

Boxing
Oscar De La Hoya
There is no need to tell you that boxing works on your arms. All that calculated jabbing is sure to give anybody well cut arms. But did you know that all that jumping works out your ENTIRE BODY? Yes, your entire body. And the good thing about boxing is that you don’t really need a second person to play the sport with. Just get a punching bag and jab away.

Ice Hockey
Jarome Iginla
If we focused only on the balance alone required to play this sport, we would already be covering a lot of positives. Ice hockey demands a lot of skills from its players: skating, puck handling, passing, shooting, and even absorbing body checks. If you’ve tried skating, you know that definitely builds aerobic fitness as well as stability and speed. But you’ll also notice a lot of leg development because ice skating at the speed that hockey requires (20 to 30 miles an hour) places significant stress on the upper leg muscles, the lower back muscles, the hamstrings and the groin muscles. And of course, we know they need all those muscles for the endless physical fights that take place on the ice.

Squash 
This is really the only sport I actually play so it has to be in here. Funnily, it is also the one on this list that I have never watched a professional game of. I do not know any famous squash players to use as an example of how squash can benefit your body. However, I can tell you that the pain I have felt the morning after each match when I first started showed me how much I was pushing my body. Not only does squash serve as great cardio the same way tennis does, but it also intensely works on those arm and shoulder muscles. Squash requires more power on the ball than tennis does because the ball has to bounce on the wall and back to the other side of the court, so your arms get an amazing workout.

Okay, so I guess it’s obvious what my favorite sports are. But there are definitely many other sports you can play. Frankly, almost any physical competitive sport serves as cardio and works on some part of your body, but I believe these are the most beneficial out there in terms of physical development.

Do you play any sports as exercise? Has it improved your fitness level?

Cheers 'Eights' and 'Weights'!

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