Soccer or more commonly known as football is undoubtedly the world’s most popular sport. Almost everybody regardless of sex, age and background could enjoy it, either as a player or a spectator. This game teaches us about the importance of teamwork while giving a strong sense of camaraderie and unity among their fans, especially those who share the same side. It also had the greatest potential among other sports in developing natural fitness, since soccer players are constantly switching between run, sprint, jog, walk or stand still during the course of the game.
As a team sport, soccer requires the players to perform those physical activities continuously while working in unison with their teammates to overcome the opponent in a competition to gain possession of the ball. These series of challenges provide the players a considerable amount of health benefits both physically and mentally, according to many health and fitness experts from around the globe.
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1. Improve Cardiovascular Functions and Skills
A typical soccer game usually lasts for around 90 plus minutes. Thus, playing a full game roughly equals with running for 10-15 km. This kind of distance would certainly pump your heart rate, increasing your heart functionality which in turn would increase your overall cardiovascular health. An excellent cardiovascular health helps and protects you from chronic heart diseases such as cardiac arrest, cardiomyopathy, stroke etc. by resisting plaque accumulation inside the major cardiovascular arteries. So, playing soccer might be a better alternative to strengthen your heart compared to running by yourself in that boring treadmill.
2. Lowers Body Fat Naturally
As your heart pumps more blood to your whole body, increasing your metabolism, your excess body fat starts to burn rapidly to release the extra energy needed to pump those blood. This can be done in any exercise or sport, but some are more fun and faster than the others. Since you are in a constant perpetual motion of running, walking, and stopping when playing a soccer game, your body are forced to switch rapidly between aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Both types of exercise burn calories and fat excellently.
3. Build Muscles Mass and Increase Muscle Strength
As stated above, playing soccer requires you to do anaerobic exercise that will help you burns fat and builds leaner muscle mass. Meanwhile, since your muscles are engaged to heavy activities such as sprinting, tackling, kicking, and turning over long periods they are bound to get strengthened. Some people might think since soccer do not allow touching the ball by hand, save for the goalie, this sport would only increase lower body muscle. Well, it is wrong, soccer actually demands the player to use much of their upper body muscles to gain composure, holding off opponents and shielding the ball. Playing soccer regularly will surely increase your overall body strength.
4. Increase Stamina and Endurance
Endurance and stamina are two core attributes needed in virtually every sport that requires physical activities. No matter how skilled a person is, if he/she doesn’t have enough stamina to last even a minute, he/she’ll be useless in a match. There are several ways to boost your physical endurance and stamina. All of it can be done by just playing soccer, with extra benefits of increasing your mental endurance as well.
5. Improve Coordination Skills
Soccer is considered the best sport to improve good coordination skills. Since soccer player constantly shifts between multitudes of tasks through a long period of time, often doing several tasks at once, they unconsciously develop excellent coordination skills of bodily movement. For example, in a typical soccer game, a player needs to dribble the ball at full speed, dodging enemy tackles and markings while searching for an opportunity to deliver a pass or shoot. It certainly requires your brain to think and act in a split second, all the while maintaining your body balance and composure in the whole process.
6. Increase Aerobic Capacity
The majority of a soccer game are spent on running back and forth across the pitch which roughly averages to 10-15 km. Due to this intense amount of running, the player aerobic capacity should improve greatly. In other words, it is how much activities can be done before you need to catch your breath. A higher aerobic capacity will make the player lasts longer before they start fatiguing.
7. Increase Reflex and Agility
The sheer amounts of events that happened in a soccer game are plentiful, and many of them happened in the blink of an eye. Therefore, any soccer player is reckoned to possess a good reflex and agile body to be able to react swiftly in every situation and keeping up with their opponent.
8. Increase Concentration, Determination, and Persistence
Due to the lengthy game time – about 90+ minutes per normal game, soccer requires a great deal of concentration from the players to stay alerted at all times. This holds true especially for the goalkeepers since they are the last line of defense and are required to guard the goal post at all times. As the game requires you to compete over the possession of the ball, the players need to be determined as well in order to win the game. The sheer amount of pressure that constantly emitted by the opponents who tried to steal the ball from you could enhance your concentration level and determination greatly. The same goes for you when you’re the one who tries to steal the ball from your opponents, if you don’t persist, you’ll never get the chance.
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9. Increase Bone Density
As a person grows older, their bone strength and density began to diminish and makes you prone to diseases such as osteoporosis. Playing soccer regularly could help you combat the decline of your bone density by increasing your bone strength. The repeated impact and weight-bearing activities might be responsible for this.
10. Improve Cognitive Thinking
Scoring a goal in soccer is not as easy as scoring in, let’s say, other sports such as basketball. Therefore, it requires a great planning and cunning tactics to secure an advantage over the other team. As the other team might have their own plan as well, the player needs to adapt constantly during the whole game. This forces their brains to perform several tasks at once within split seconds at the present while assessing the opponent next move and how to counter it. This sort of mental exercise could greatly improve the player’s cognitive skills and critical thinking, especially when done on a regular basis.
11. Improve Competitive Spirit
Life is so full of competitions. At school, work, even families we are constantly faced with it. We need to fight to be able to stand our ground. Otherwise, we will be taken in by the others. We can learn to improve our fighting spirit by regularly competing in highly competitive sports such as soccer because, in sports, the repercussions of losing in a competition might not as bad as losing in a daily life competition.
Psychology Effects of Playing Soccer
12. Great Way to Spend Family Time
Want to develop a bond or quality time with your family members? Invite them to play soccer. Or even better, form a team with them. Remember that a soccer player needs to know their teammates on and off the field to improve the teamwork? Well, getting to know your family member better is much easier than a complete stranger, right? You might even mend past problems and difficulties by sharing a few laughter and excitement through soccer. Having a happy, functional family is also one of the symptoms of living a healthy life.
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13. Easy to Start
One of the reasons why soccer is so popular all around the world is because how easy it is to start as it doesn’t have a lot of requirement. Kids in third world countries only need a ball to play and enjoy it with their friends and families. You can play it in the streets, beach, or even in your backyard. Even if you want to play it properly on a football field, the only thing you need a ball, a soccer shoe, a jersey or sports outfit, and some friends to play with. Since it’s so easy to start, it might be easier and might require less commitment than forcing yourself to the gym regularly.
14. Enhances Social Interaction and Connections
Playing soccer in a team means you’ll meet other people and perform social interactions. As stated before, soccer needs a teamwork, and to improve your teamwork you’ll need to know your teammates better. What are their habits, preferences, weakness, strength, all of this information would prove useful in developing a special bond that would improve the team as a whole. And since you can’t really just interview everyone to get that information you’ll probably need to spend some time with your teammates off the field to know them better. Your opponent on the field might also become your friend off the field as well because doing sports is not just about winning or losing. It’s about sportsmanship, about improving everyone’s physical abilities as well as mental abilities, about having fun and relieving stress, and more importantly, it’s all about having a healthy life.
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15. Increase Mental Alertness and Well-Being
When your body is drenched in endorphin that released during the height of the game, making your mind more relaxed, your sense of well-being would certainly improve. You can forget about your daily life stress and problems for a while, and after the match, you might not need to think about those problems anymore. Researchers have also found that engaging in physical activities and sports provide several mental benefits.
16. Relieving Stress
Every sport was meant as an entertainment to both those who play it and those who watch it. Soccer is no exception to that. Researchers have found out that people who play soccer worry less than the ones who runs. It’s probably because when playing soccer, your focus is fixated to the thrill of the game, and nothing else. So momentarily, you’ll forget about every problem that you’re currently having.
17. Promotes Teamwork and Sharing
Competitive soccer is played by 11 persons per team in a 100 x 110 m field. No matter how strong and skilled the player is, no one cannot carry the game all by themselves without any help from the other teammates. A good teamwork is required for the game to be played smoothly and effectively. This is a very important skill not only in sports but also in everyday life. As such, soccer is an excellent way to introduce to young children about the importance of working together and sharing burdens with others to achieve a common goal.
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18. Reduces Anxiety
As you participate in engaging activities in soccer, your body subconsciously produces a substance known as endorphin which stimulate your body to feel a sensation of contentment, well-being, and exhilaration. This sensation is known as “runner’s high” or “rower’s high” that’s usually triggered by vigorous aerobic exercises. The euphoric feeling resulted from this “high” is responsible for lowering anxiety and creating a positive mood change from a relaxed mind.
19. Increase Confidence and Self-Esteem
Any increase in strength, muscle mass, and endurance surely boosts your confidence as you feel your body has transformed into something better than before. This is one of the reasons people work out at gyms to achieve their ideal body shape and fitness level. Increasing your confidence goes hand-in-hand with your self-esteem. When you feel confident, your self-esteem would increase as well. Confident people tends to be more successful in their life compared to insecure people. And as they said, a happy life is a healthy life.
The final benefit of playing soccer is extremely simple. It’s absolutely fun. Thus, playing soccer entertains yourself, your team, and everybody who watches it. So, now you may call your friends to play together.
With all those benefits what’s keeping you from playing soccer to improve your health? So start strapping that shoe and go out there to start kicking the ball!! And remember, a happy life is a healthy life!!