Soccer, the most popular sport in the world, is an excellent form of exercise that solidly covers all the bases for fitness. Often referred to in other countries as futbol, soccer was referred to by my kids’ Dominican coach as “continuous running that just happens to include ball skills.”
Soccer is ideal for all ages, skill levels and sizes, and can be played in just about any open space. It’s a team sport, which means that at any time of the game, you may be sprinting, running slow, passing the ball, or standing still.
Because of its non-stop action, soccer is a great all-over workout. It is a form of exercise that targets the whole body, including your thighs, calves, abdomen, buttocks and cardiovascular system.
A 2010 study, published by the University of Copenhagen, showed that soccer training for 2-3 hours per week causes significant cardiovascular, metabolic and musculoskeletal adaptations. These adaptations were independent of gender, age or lack of experience with soccer.
The three-year study involved both males and females ages 9-77, who were divided into soccer, running and control groups. The most important aspect of the study, according to the researchers, was the team companionship that formed, which is a strong indicator of how long a person might stick with their fitness.
Other positive aspects of soccer include teaching coordination, concentration, self-discipline and persistence. It’s a sport that requires little in the way of equipment and formal training, and can be an activity that your entire family can enjoy together. With a little warm-up time, soccer can help you with flexibility, directional changing, and agility – and best of all, it’s fun!