It’s known as soccer in the US and Canada. It’s called football in the rest of the world. And while the excitement for next year’s Football World Cup in South Africa is building up, people take very little notice that football is a sport for everybody regardless of gender. The German national women football team won the World Championship a couple of months back. Nobody pays attention as national men’s team still had to struggle to qualify for next year’s tournament. My kids just finished a one-week football camp during the autumn break. It was a camp of more than 50 boys and no girls.
But researchers at the University of Copenhagen report that soccer or football may just be the ideal sport for women in order to keep fit. On top of the list of the sport’s benefits is cardiovascular health.
Women generally find it difficult to find the time for physical exercise, what with many juggling between family and jobs. The most common form of exercise women go for are those that is flexible timewise such as working out in the gym or going for a jogging run.
The study looked at 100 women aged 19 to 47 years with no previous experience in playing football. They were divided into 3 groups: one group took up football (2 times 1 hour per week), another took up running, and a third group did not perform any regular exercise and served as controls. The study participants were followed up for 2 years.
The study results show that women who played football were the fittest of the 3 groups.
According to study leader Peter Krustrup:
It also showed that it is more difficult for women to stick to their exercise routine given too much flexibility. Recreational football however, which requires a fixed time and place for training is reportedly easier to stick to.
In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, the researchers report the following additional benefits of recreational football:
- Improvement in muscle strength and growth
- Promotion of social interactions, expansion of social networks
- Improvement in general well-being
Hmmmm…I must say I don’t have a problem sticking to my jogging runs but football sounds tempting.
The research further reports that family responsibilities, especially for women with small children, are the principal barrier that hinders them to engage in regular physical activity.