Have you considered taking up soccer during the recent excitement with the World Cup? Soccer (or football for the majority of the world) actually has many health benefits, especially when played with proper equipment and while using strategies for preventing soccer injuries.

Soccer Injuries InfographicHealth benefits of playing soccer

From cardiovascular health and endurance to coordination, there are many health benefits to playing soccer. Among those not mentioned here are further benefits for cognitive health, problem-solving skills, and teamwork values.

Improve your cardiovascular health

Did you know that soccer players may move as many as 5 to 7 miles during a game? Whether that movement is from sprinting, running, jogging, or walking, the across-the-field movement really adds up to big cardiovascular gains. An article in Men’s Health notes that, “playing soccer 2 days a week had a bigger effect on blood pressure than moderate daily exercise. “

Ramp up your cardiovascular endurance

Since the movement in soccer is almost constant, this really keeps a player’s heart rate up during the whole 90 minute match. This creates much more cardiovascular endurance for sustaining movements for longer periods of time.  The benefits don’t end at the whistle either. If you become involved in more competitive leagues, you’ll get the same great workouts during practice as well.

Help with coordination and balance

If you’ve seen the pivots, jumps, and dribbles happening on the World Cup field, you already understand some of the coordination and technique required to play soccer. It can help improve both hand-eye coordination, as when sending or receiving a pass, or whole body coordination when weaving between other players. If you play in the goalie position, these benefits are even greater.

Increase muscle and bone strength

This cardio-intensive exercise helps keep body fat levels down, while promoting active muscle engagement for long periods of time. This can lead to increased muscle strength. A University of Copenhagen study of premenopausal women suggests that playing soccer can increase leg muscle mass, jumping height, and posture. Just as importantly, it may decrease the risks for bone fractures. Researchers write: