Women's health * Healthy living

Football better than running for women

football best form of exercise for women Better physical and social benefits

Football is better than running for improving women's overall fitness, according to new research.

What's more, scientists from the University of Copenhagen also found that women are less likely to drop playing football from their busy lives compared with running.

In a two year study, due to be published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, researchers compared the physical, psychological and social benefits of women's football compared with running.

One hundred women were separated into three groups - football, running and a control group. Both the footballers and runners trained twice a week for an hour.

After 16 weeks, the researchers found that the women footballers showed a "marked improvement in maximal oxygen uptake, muscle mass and physical performance.

Although women usually prefer cardiovascular training, some type of strength training is needed to maintain bone and muscle strength for later in life, the scientists 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," said Professor Peter Krustrup, who led the study.

The social aspects of football - meeting other women and taking part in a team sport, also meant that women were more likely to continue with football than running. And women found it easier to fit in football - which requires a fixed place and time - into their busy lives rather than running.

“In the recent decade, we have seen a significant rise in women and girls playing soccer. It seems as though women are really beginning to take in soccer and make it a popular sport for women on their own terms.

"This is a very positive step forward, not only because of the improved physical fitness and health profile but also for the enjoyment of sports”, Mr Krustrup concluded.

This article was published on Tue 6 October 2009

Image © razorconcept - fotolia.com

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