It's been proven: playing soccer burns a huge amount of fat per game while increasing muscle mass. This, together with the fact that you're playing a fun group sport, should give you that extra nudge you need to do exercise . Are you in?
This sport was originally suggested, for men and women regardless of age, by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Scientists there have proven that people who play a friendly game of soccer, burn more fat and increase their muscle mass more than people who run for exercise.
Danish experts came to this conclusion after studying 37 males between the ages of 31 and 33. They also discovered that people who play this sport feel less tired than those who jog, run, or sprint because they enjoy the exercise they're doing.
The research participants were divided into three groups: some played soccer, others ran, and the rest did not do any exercise. To measure their efforts, they wore heart monitors, and blood and muscle tissue samples were compared before and after each soccer game or race.
After three weeks of practicing their respective sport three times a week, the soccer players had lost 3.7% of their fatty tissue while the runners had lost only 2%.
The soccer players' muscle mass increased by almost 4 1/2 pounds while the runners' mass was barely affected.
No relevant changes were observed in the body fat and muscle of those who did not practice any sport.
"Although those who played soccer weren't physically trained, their cardiovascular systems were intensely pushed to the limit at times, as if they were trained professionals," explained Peter Krustrup from the Department of Sports Science at the University and one of the study's authors.
Researchers also found that during the soccer games there were moments in which the heart pumped at 90% of its capacity, a level which was not found among the runners.
In addition, "soccer players have more fun and don't concentrate so much on fatigue and muscle pain," assured the research team.
Soccer is not only great for losing weight, it also strengthens mineral bone density, especially when practiced from an early age. This is what also makes it an interesting sport for women all around the world. In fact, the next step for researchers will be to study female goal keepers, defenders and attackers.
Playing soccer before reaching puberty favors the content and concentration of mineral salts in bones and it makes bones larger according to another study headed by José Antonio López Calbet from the University of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, Spain.
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