What are the Soccer Health Benefits?
I have been playing soccer almost my entire life and I have experienced all the health benefits of this tremendous sport.
Soccer – or football as it’s also called – is the most popular sport in the world and is played in most countries. It is a team sport, involving 11 players on each side who use their legs, head and torso to pass a ball and score goals. The nature of the game means that players may be sprinting, running fast or slow, jumping high, kicking and sometimes may be standing around.
As play during soccer is continuous, soccer is great for fitness and cardiovascular health. People of various ages and skill levels can participate in soccer, with individuals of various sizes being able to do equally well. Soccer can also be a great sport for kids who may not have high levels of athletic ability, but who would like to participate in team sports.
Soccer can be a great workout and lots of fun. The health benefits include:
- Muscle strength: Soccer is great for your overall muscle tone as it is a game of constant movement which keeps your muscles engaged over long periods of time. Chasing your opponent, blasting the ball for a goal and jumping for headers are all exercises that build muscle in your legs.
- Cardiovascular Health: Playing soccer involves constant shifts between walking, running and sprinting, which helps the heart by making it work more efficiently during exercise and at rest. A research study done by University of Copenhagen in women aged 20 to 45 showed that playing soccer regularly has a positive effect on the structure and function of the heart. Soccer also lowers your blood pressure, increases your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and lowers your resting heart rate. Playing football regularly can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Here is a scientific paper about this: Short Term Street Soccer improves fitness and cardiovascular health status of homeless men.
- Bone strength: Regular bouts of high-impact exercise like football puts pressure on your bones which can help boost your bones. Studies have shown that people who participate in weight-bearing exercise such as playing football helps build up and maintain strong, healthy bones and helps prevent osteoporosis later in life.
- Weight loss: A 45 minute game of football probably can burn about 350 calories. It also increases metabolism so you will also keep using extra calories for 48 hours after the game because your metabolic rate stays higher.
- Improves coordination, agility and balance: Playing soccer involves complex movements like dribbling, quickly changing direction and passing performed at varying rates of speed which improves your body coordination, agility and balance. Kicking the ball and receiving the pass from someone improves your hand to eye coordination.
- Stress buster: Soccer can have positive effects on how you feel. It can improve your mood, raise your self-esteem, reduce stress and help you sleep better. Young players who play football feel better about themselves as exercises has been shown to lower stress. A recent study found that men worry less when playing soccer than when running.
- Social skills: Soccer provides a stage where people can learn and practice their social skills. You will inevitably meet and become friends with other people from different backgrounds and different cultures. Playing soccer means working as a team member, picking each other up, experiencing the highs and lows, supporting and helping others. It teaches you to think in broader terms where personal goals are pushed aside by team goals. You can build a team spirit and have fun at the same time
There are many other benefits from playing a team sport like soccer. For example it:
- Is generally a non-contact sport
- Teaches coordination
- Promotes teamwork and sharing
- Teaches you to think on-the-go
- Helps to increase skills in concentration, persistence and self-discipline
- Is a great way to meet people and exercise with friends
- Can provide an opportunity to increase your confidence and self-esteem, and help to reduce anxiety
- Requires very little equipment so can be played in the backyard or park
- Is relatively easy to learn, so beginners can easily join in on the fun and play basic soccer for recreation
- Is an international sport.
Soccer is very popular around the world and is played both recreationally and competitively. Playing a basic game of soccer doesn’t require a large number of people or a soccer field; it can be as simple as having a kick with friends.
Playing soccer just for fun can be done in backyards, streets or on beaches. All you need is a ball! You can also play soccer competitively by joining a local club, organized competitions and junior clinics.
To protect yourself from injury and prepare your body to play soccer, make sure you:
- Warm up your muscles and joints before starting
- Maintain your fitness to play well and avoid injury or fatigue
- Ensure you have plenty of fluids on hand and rehydrate regularly
- Don’t overdo it – depending on your age and physical condition.
- Wear the correct protective equipment.
Where to get help
Things to remember
- Soccer is a good sport for maintaining health, fitness, strength and endurance.
- You can play with a club, learn through a junior clinic or have a kick with friends.
- Make sure you have plenty of fluids on hand and rehydrate regularly.
- Don’t overdo it. Mix up your physical activity with other low-impact sports.
- Soccer - health benefits - Better Health Channel
- Short Term Street Soccer improves fitness and cardiovascular health status of homeless men.
- Recreational soccer is an effective health-promoting activity for untrained men.
- Soccer - preventing injury
- Health Related Benefits of Soccer