Think back the last time someone told you that soccer is nothing more than just an act of showmanship. It hurts, doesn’t it? You were wishing that you had a way of debunking this.
Well, starting from today, do not allow people to talk you into believing that soccer is detrimental to your health, much less an act of showmanship. Sure, due to the robust nature of play, soccer players often suffer from a multitude of injures, fractures and sprains. A few of them even fall prey to the Sudden Death Syndrome and perished on the pitch. But if you currently an active soccer player, rejoice as the latest scientific research has proven to a certain extent (which I will detail later) that soccer players are far superior athletes – mean and lean running machines with plenty of lung power. Here’s proof taken from the recently concluded British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Annual Conference 2007.
This study was led by Associate Professor Peter Krustrup from the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with Copenhagen University Hospital and Bispebjerg Hospital.
Krustrup and his team randomly selected 37 male couch potatoes and had them undergo three hours per week of soccer, jogging or no exercise over a continuous period of three months. It turned out that those who went through the soccer regime became the fittest of the lot.
After three months, those who played soccer lost 3.3kg of fat measured using specialized x-ray imaging, compared with 1.8kg among joggers. In addition, the soccer players gained 1.7kg of muscles while joggers did not gain any measurable muscle mass. The soccer players also posted a significant reduction in so-called “bad” cholesterol while there was no reduction for the joggers. Finally, the players’ sprint time was found to have improved significantly while the scores of the joggers remained unchanged. Needless to say, those who had no exercise did not experience any health benefits.
A possible explanation for the results is that soccer players are required to stop and go, speed up, slow down, while joggers generally move at an even pace. In fact, part of the reason why the willowy David Beckham once captained England was not because he had silky dribbling skills or that he is pacy but because he inspired the rest of the team with his superior fitness. But be warned: long-time couch potatoes who see themselves as the next Ronaldinho in the short run will run a high risk of landing on the operation table instead.
While the results of this study quantitatively demonstrate the fitness of soccer players, comparisons must be made against other sports with a high playing tempo such as basketball. But even if such comparisons are available, I still believe that soccer players will come out among tops given the rigors and robustness of the modern game.