I’ve been thinking about the health benefits of playing football after being struck by football fever. Over the next four weeks, what are hundreds of competing players putting their bodies and minds through? How might this affect their long-term health? You don’t have to be the next Ronaldo to reap the rewards, either. In fact, a study by the University of Copenhagen found that playing a regular five-a-side football game with your mates could have significant health benefits. Discover how taking up the sport could help you score a health hat-trick, making you stronger, healthier, and happier.
Football has the following health benefits:
- Increasing blood pressure and heart health
- Strengthening the bones and muscles of inactive individuals
- Body fat reduction
- Stamina, strength, and speed development
- Improve your concentration and coordination by training your brain
- Boosting your self-confidence, promoting teamwork, and being social
What are the energy systems involved in football?
The complex nature of football training means that footballers also have to utilize their anaerobic system during a game.
When you exercise aerobically, the oxygen you breathe reaches your muscles via your lungs and heart, giving them the energy they need for the activity. This reduces the intensity of the activity.
When an activity is performed at high intensity, however, the anaerobic system becomes dominant. Your anaerobic system can produce energy much more quickly than your aerobic system.
It is impossible to perform exercise anaerobically for long periods of time as energy resources are quickly depleted. Thus, your body works aerobically to replenish the oxygen debt built up during the intense periods.
During a match, football players perform a mixture of high-intensity – like sprinting – and low-intensity – like jogging – exercises:
- Walking accounts for 25% of time spent
- Jogging takes up 37% of the time
- Running at high intensity consumes 20% of the time
- Sprinting accounts for 11% of time spent
- Running backward consumes 7% of the time
Strength training and football
To improve their performances on the field, footballers undergo specific strength and power training programs.
The actions in football are completed by multi-joint and multi-muscle movements, coordinated between muscle groups for efficient movement, multi-directional forces, and a stable structure. Therefore, football strength programs will be designed around these movements.
The reason for this is that a footballer’s entire body needs to be engaged during a match, as strength is required in order to defend, tackle, sprint, jump, and of course, strike the ball, while also reducing injury risk. Playing a game uses the following muscles:
- Muscles and joints in the upper body will give you an edge in throwing, running, and jumping.
- Your core stability is needed to maintain good posture while making quick turns and protecting the ball from your opponent.
- There are many muscles in the lower body that footballers build up strength in – from the ankle to the glutes – so that they can kick, sprint, balance, and more.