Soccer (also called “football” in most parts of the world outside the US) is the most popular sport in the world.
According to a recent Nielsen’s World Football Report across 18 global markets, over 40 percent of the population describe themselves as soccer fans.
In the US, soccer is still growing and Nielsen estimates that interest in the Major League Soccer has increased by 27 percent since 2012.
There’s a reason soccer is loved by so many.
Jean-Philippe Toussaint in his captivating essay described it best:
“Football, like painting, according to Leonardo da Vinci, is a cosa mentale; it is in the imagination that it is measured and appreciated. The nature of the wonder that football provokes derives from the fantasies of triumph and omnipotence that it generates in our minds.”
But besides the emotions of joy, triumph and the sheer entertainment of competing, there are so many health benefits of playing soccer.
I play soccer on Sundays as part of my morning exercises.
And it doesn’t matter if you play a pickup game or professional game, all these soccer benefits are available for you too.
So in the rest of this article, we will talk about some of the health benefits of soccer. And why it can help you stay fit and healthy.
Let’s dive in.
1. Improves aerobic endurance and capacity
A soccer game is a massive full-body workout. Let me explain.
In a soccer game, there are about 90 minutes, split into two halves of 45 minutes each. And in each of those 45-minute halves, you will be moving your full body.
There are only a few sports where you get to use this kind of multi-functions of the body.
All these movements improve your ability to transport oxygen from your cardiovascular system to your muscles.
And in turn, it improves how well the muscles use the oxygen for energy.
2. Improves ability to shed unwanted fat
Here’s the thing: because of all the movements of the body during a soccer game, the body is in full metabolism mode. It is trying to replace lost nutrients, even afterward.
Metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert what we eat and drink into energy.
Your body’s insulin level is also sensitive at this time so there is no way it will store glycogen as fats.
Also, one of the health benefits of playing soccer is that during the game, there is the production of lactic acid. This helps to supplement the inadequate oxygen in the body.
Adrenaline is produced alongside which helps to move fats results in the burning of fats.
3. Boosts cardiovascular health
Cardiovascular health refers to how healthy our hearts and blood vessels are with each day.
If we don’t take care of our cardiovascular health, we tend to struggle with diseases like coronary heart disease, heart failure or stroke.
The good news is that several studies have linked regular physical activity to improve cardiovascular health.
In a decent-sized soccer game, you’re likely to ring at least five miles.
This prolonged physical movement and mileage is a great cardiovascular exercise since all through the game, you’re keeping your heart rates up.
This means not only are you able to improve your immunity against diseases but also you’re improving the healthy circulation of blood to different parts of your body.
4. Reduces high blood pressure
Because of its high-intensity nature, soccer helps to reduce high blood pressure and heart rate.
This study proves this claim, especially in obese and overweight individuals.
Another study concludes that eight weeks of HIIT on stationary bikes decreased blood pressure than traditional continuous endurance exercises in adults with high blood pressure.
5. Improve bone strength
Right from birth, our bones grow in mass and density and length till after a certain age where they start getting weak.
They can get so weak that the least strain on them can get the bone broken. Research has shown the positive impact and effect exercises have on improving bone strength.
With all the movements in soccer using our body weight, one of the benefits of playing soccer is that it helps you improve bone strength and density of your frame.
6. Increases muscle strength
Imagine running past defenders, kicking and tackling opponents who are at full speed — all without losing the ball.
This is a regular part of soccer that helps you to build full-body strength succeed.
7. Improves body tone
If you’re looking to lose belly fat and improve the muscle tone of your body, playing soccer can be an option.
The combination of fast and slow movements means that you’re tapping into two important kinds of energy pathways.
The first is the aerobic pathway which slowly spikes large amounts of energy. The second pathway is anaerobic. It produces energy quickly but in small quantities.
The result is that not only do you burn more calories, but also uses a lot of muscle fibers.