Football is better than running for women’s fitness

The dynamics help increase strength and cardiac health

Playing football is a better way for women to get into shape than running, research suggests.

The dynamics of the game help increase strength and cardiac health, a study says. And the social interaction of the game means those playing football were more likely to keep it up regularly than runners.

In a two-year study, 100 untrained women were divided into three groups: football, running and a control group. The researchers, led by Associate Professor Peter Krustrup of the University of Copenhagen, found that the football players showed the most benefits from the exercise.

Playing the sport brought about an improvement in endurance and sprinting ability. It also increased the women’s oxygen consumption – an indicator of physical fitness – and muscle mass.

Prof Krustrup said: ‘While playing soccer, the women have high heart rates and perform many sprints, turns, kicks and tackles, making soccer an effective integration of both cardio and strength training.’

The study, to be published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports next week, found those who played football continued their training as a group, whereas few of the women in the running group kept it up after the study.

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