FIT for Life

Playing to Build Full-Body Health

Sports are a great source for better health

By Skylar Phillips, Program Coordinator,
and Ryan Jinks, Wellness Coach,
Joplin Family Y
At the Y, we believe sports are not only a great way for kids to stay active but also a way to teach them how to prioritize full-body health to avoid bad habits as they grow up. While we joke a lot about not skipping leg day, a lot of people trying to get healthier stumble with prioritizing different muscle groups during their workouts. One way the Y is trying to curb this problem is getting kids into a variety of youth sports. These kids end up training different muscle groups for each league, getting them in the habit of training their whole body.

“A lot of people starting out think they just have to do push ups, lift weights or run a few miles to get in shape,” said Evans Allen, membership program executive of the Joplin Family Y. “All that helps, but if you’re in soccer, you’re training your body to move in a lot of directions precisely. If you’re playing golf, you’re building up your core and improving your posture so you can hit the ball correctly.”

Sports are fun, but even those who aren’t interested in a particular game can get a lot out of trying it once. Just trying out a new game can give you insight into muscles that aren’t being worked as much as they could. The more sports you try, the more you learn about ways to strengthen yourself to better diversify your exercise program.

“We have a lot of muscles, and when you’re trying to build them to get healthier, it’s easy to only work the same muscles,” said Cookie Estrada, CEO of the Joplin Family Y. “Often, people start working out without thinking that they have to plan to hit different muscle groups. One of the benefits we’re seeing from our variety of youth sports is kids getting a better idea of how many muscles they have and how to build them up. We’ve worked to emphasize this in our programs so kids will grow up with the discipline to exercise their whole body for better health.”

For adults looking to improve their full-body health, understanding their health goals and building a schedule is key. One service we encourage our members to take advantage of is personal training because our trainers will sit down with them to build a training program that will identify each member’s health needs and use that to develop specific goals and an exercise program that will meet those goals. Without concrete goals to shape your workout around, it’s easy for anyone to get caught up doing the same few exercises over and over, and that means decreased benefits from the exercise.

The Joplin Family Y has resources to help youth and adults meet their fitness goals. Learn more about our classes, events and youth sports leagues by visiting or calling 417.781.YMCA.