Guest blog by Craig Ballantyne, CSCS
Recreational soccer is an effective health-promoting activity for untrained men
Krustrup et al.
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2009;43:825-831
36 healthy untrained men were randomised into a soccer group, a running group and a control group.
Training was performed for 1 hour two or three times per week for 12 weeks; at an average heart rate of 82% of HRmax for both training groups.
During the 12-week program, the soccer group improved maximal oxygen uptake (a measure of aerobic fitness) 62% more than the running group. The soccer group also lost an average of 50% more fat than the running group (6lbs vs 4lbs).
The soccer group had an increase in lean body mass of 3.75lbs, an increase in lower
extremity bone mass, a greater decrease in LDL-cholesterol and an increase in fat oxidation
during running at 9.5 km/h. The running group saw none of these changes.
The number of capillaries per muscle fibre was also almost 50% higher in the soccer training group than in running. Both groups reduced blood pressure equally.
The researchers concluded that participation in recreational soccer training, has significant beneficial effects on health profile and physical capacity and in some aspects it is superior
to frequent moderate-intensity running.
What does this tell us? Well, think about soccer. The difference is more than adding a ball while running. Soccer (I mean FOOTBALL) is essentially a form of interval training (although the work and recovery periods are randomized - CHAOS training as my friend Robert Dos Remedios calls it). It's also multi-directional, multi-movement (jumping, heading, running, sprinting, kicking, tackling, with contact) and multi-planar.
Basically this study shows that open interval training, using multiple movements and directions is superior for conditioning, muscle building and fat loss when compared to the same intensity of running.
I just wish they'd discovered that watching soccer was just as good.....
By the way, why do they call it "soccer" when it's really FOOT-ball? Played with your feet.....