Fast footwork, agility and endurance are just a few of the essentials for playing men’s soccer/ football. And the full list of benefits gained from playing this sport are numerous. While it is most popular in European and Latin American countries (it’s even the national sport of Brazil), Americans are beginning to take part in the excitement both at the recreational and competitive levels. The best part about this sport is that you can play with any number of players, in any open space!
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Increases Aerobic Capacity: Running -at any intensity- for 90 minutes requires a high level of stamina. Therefore, soccer players often have a tremendous amount of aerobic capacity- being able to go from walking to sprinting and have a fast recovery to do it again, and again, and again.
- Improves Cardiovascular Health: The average player runs 5 to 7 miles in a full game. The constant walking, jogging and running helps keep the players’ heart rates up, providing excellent cardiovascular exercise. This constant movement helps players strengthen their hearts, resist plaque build-up in the coronary arteries, reduce their blood pressure and burn excess calories.
- Lowers Body Fat and Improves Muscle Tone: Soccer is a great sport for burning fat because it works the muscles and your heart in different ways. Soccer builds more muscle mass and burns more fat by recruiting both slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers. As a general workout, soccer playing burns more calories than typical workouts because players are forced to switch between using the aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways.
- Builds Muscle Strength: lower body strength is required for kicking, jumping, tackling, twisting and turning and also forms the foundation for explosive speed. Upper body strength is required for shielding the ball, holding off opponents, throw-ins and also contributes to overall power and explosiveness. Regular soccer playing builds strength by using the whole body.
- Increases Bone Strength: In general, bone density decreases as people get older. The repeated weight-bearing loads on the body during a soccer match are an excellent way to increase the strength of our skeletal frame. Maintaining fitness through soccer throughout a lifetime is a great way to keep bones strong.
- Teaches Coordination: due to shifts between walking, running and sprinting, coordination is key to soccer. Body coordination is improved through the complex movements like dribbling, turning and passing, which are performed at varying rates of speed and direction. Hand-eye coordination is improved when players either kick the ball or receive a pass from someone. The better the coordination, the better advantage in a match.
- Promotes Teamwork and Sharing: While fitness goals are generally very personal, we can all benefit from sharing common goals with others who push us towards them. The lessons that players learn on the field translate to the rest of their lives and the camaraderie teammates share in unparalleled. The ability to work with others to reach a common goal is powerful when related to everyday life- in other words, join a team!
- Increases Cognitive Brain Function: Soccer helps increase skills in concentration, persistence and self-discipline because it is a fast-paced game that requires quick decisions on the field. Even when the tempo appears to slow down, players are constantly looking for territorial advantages, trying to position themselves to receive a pass or to defend an area the opponent may attack.
- Increase Confidence and Self-esteem, and Helps to Reduce Anxiety: Building physical strength and endurance helps build confidence in a player both on and off the field. Confidence and self-esteem not only impact sports performance, but also performance in school, career, family life and friendships. Also, as with all forms of exercise, the feel-good endorphins released into the body after a match are major stress and anxiety reducers. Several studies point to exercise as being a highly effective treatment for depression and anxiety.
- Anyone can Play, Anywhere: Soccer is not an expensive or prohibitive sport. All that is needed is space and a ball. It is a relatively simple sport to catch onto and is played mostly outdoors, which we already mentioned as being healthy here.
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