Football beats jogging for women6th October 2009
Playing football is better for women's health than running, according to a recent Danish study.
In gathering their data, researchers spent two years observing some 100 premenopausal women.
The women were divided into three groups: those who played football, those who ran, and a control group.
Since running can be fit into busy schedules, it has traditionally been viewed as a flexible way of getting a cardiovascular workout.
However, because football involves social interaction and a fixed time and place for matches, women are more likely to keep at it than solitary running.
Head researcher Peter Krustrup of the University of Copenhagen said that women who play football get their heart rates up and perform many sprints, turns, kicks and tackles, which makes the game an effective integration of both cardiovascular and strength training.
He said his study showed that the 16 weeks of recreational women's soccer caused a marked improvement in maximal oxygen uptake, muscle mass, and physical performance.
He said that playing football raises women's endurance and sprinting ability, and that the significant rise in number of female football players over the past decade makes it seem as though women are really beginning to make the sport popular on their own terms.
Laila Ottesen, also of the University of Copenhagen, said that the women soccer players differed from runners in that the runners were motivated by the idea of getting in shape and improving health, while the soccer players focused on the game itself and were motivated by social interaction and the desire to have fun.
She said that, since the football players got in better shape than the runners, the combined social benefits made soccer a great alternative to running.
Krustrup said that the increasing popularity of women's football was a very positive step forward.
Ottesen said that the women who played soccer have continued their training as a group whereas few of the women in the running group continued running after the study.
She said that some of the women from the running group even joined the football group after the project finished.
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