Stay footie fit

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Football mania is sweeping the globe and India is no different. While we enjoy watching sports on TV, we often forget that playing sports is one of the best ways of getting fit and staying fit. While some sports require a certain of investment in terms of time and money, the universal appeal of football lies in the fact that all you need is a piece of land and a ball to get going. So if you want to use soccer to help you get fit, let’s get you started!

Set up a routine: Decide what you want to do for each day. You will want to workout at least six days a week with one day of rest. The programme will help you keep focus; it becomes a little easier to skip a day of training if you don’t have the schedule in front of you.

Stretch: Start with stretching for at least five minutes and step up to 15 minutes every day. It is very important to stretch your hamstrings, quads, calves, arms, back and neck. Do any stretches you want in each area for a minimum of 15 seconds each. Stretching regularly will keep you from getting injured. Ideally, you should stretch before and after your runs and when you play.

Running: Running is the heart of most sport, especially soccer. If you are planning your fitness around a sport like soccer, then you need to run every day. Like stretching, there is no way around this. At the highest level, a soccer player runs eight to nine kilometres on an average in a game, while you will not be expected to put in that kind of work in your friendly neighbourhood game, you will still require a high degree of endurance.

If you are unsure on how to start building up your endurance, here is a routine you could follow:

Week 1: Stretch. Run for 15 minutes. Cool down walk. Stretch; Week 2: Stretch. Run for 25 minutes. Cool down walk. Stretch ... so on and so forth, just increasing the time each week until you’re running 40 minutes every day. Given the weather, either run first thing in the morning or if you are a member at a gym, use the treadmill till the weather improves.

Core work: I’m a firm believer that having a strong core is essential to everything you do. A strong core will help you stay balanced and make your movements more efficient. Your schedule should include core work on at least three of the six days you plan to work out. Pilates crunches, Superman-bananas, push-ups and planks will help develop your core. When working out the core, opt for quality over quantity. A few properly done crunches will benefit far more than a hundred improperly executes ones.

Agility: Soccer expects you to change both direction and pace very quickly. Work on your agility two to three days a week. Do junking runs, short sprints, if you can set up some markers run short distances changing direction quickly.

Ball skills: While getting fit for football is fun in itself, make sure you spend time with a football as well. Do some ball work like dribbling or shooting or passing. It will not only give you a good workout, but will always stimulate your other senses and help you enjoy more. Sports not only will help you develop your body, it is a great social activity, and is fantastic for overall well being. So, as the World Cup has your feet tapping, go out and enjoy yourself by playing the world’s favourite sport!

(The author is a wellness expert and runs a fitness centre in New Delhi)

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