We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing! – Benjamin Franklin
… And what better way to keep exercising, than by playing soccer (or football). All you need is a ball and an empty space. Soccer has become one of the most popular and largest growing sports in Australia over recent years. Not only have we seen support for professional sides, but the number of kids in grass-root level competitions participating every weekend has grown too! As technology advances and we become more and more sedentary, it is imperative we remain active and healthy. Some of the major health benefits soccer can provide are:
- Improved cardiovascular and aerobic fitness
- Greater strength and muscle tone
- Reduced body fat
- Better balance and co-ordination
- Increased self-confidence, and the ability to forward plan and think on the run
Although soccer is a fantastic sport, players can become injured if not prepared. Here are some handy tips that will help prevent injuries:
- Maintain your fitness throughout the season (if playing competitively) by attending regular training sessions and changing up the direction and types of running you do (e.g. straight line vs lateral, jogs vs sprints).
- Warm up before and cool down after a game, targeting major muscle groups such as your glutes, quadriceps and hamstring with a mixture of static, dynamic and ballistic movements (your coach can give you more information about the right type of stretches and exercises for you).
- Stay hydrated throughout the match even if you’re not thirsty. If you’re thirsty, your body is mildly dehydrated and should be treated as soon as possible. Depending on your level of competition, some elite players begin hydrating 24 hours before a match to ensure optimum performance.
With “sitting disease” at an all-time high, soccer is a perfect way to combat the nasty side-effects of being on your butt all day (at least in my opinion!). Anyone can play soccer, regardless of ability or physique, and it provides the player with physical, psychological and social benefits. But most importantly, it’s fun! Photo Credit: bil_kleb via Compfight cc