Playing football provides numerous types of advantages, such as increased aerobic and anaerobic fitness, improved fitness skills and even psychosocial benefits. Football also suffices as a form of exercise that meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s minimum recommended exercise recommendations of 150 minutes per week. Football can benefit all ages, provided the participant’s doctor approves, and his developmental stage, maturity and physical size suits a contact sport.
Cardiovascular and Health Benefits
Football involves running, sprinting and drills that require generous energy expenditure and engage the cardiovascular system. Regularly participating in aerobic exercise such as football offers benefits such as increased longevity, as well as reduced susceptibility to heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and other chronic diseases, reports the Harvard School of Public Health. It can also foster weight loss and weight management; a 155-pound person burns nearly 600 calories per hour playing football, according to Harvard Medical School. Football players, particularly those who are overweight, may lose 15 to 20 pounds in a single season, according to Dave Cisar, who is the founder and president of the Screaming Eagles Youth Football Organization in Omaha, Nebraska.
Football helps develop numerous types of fitness skills including speed, agility and power. Players may lose body fat, gain lean muscle and increase the likelihood of maintaining healthy habits throughout life, according to USA Football. Football players will develop muscle strength through conditioning exercises and explosive power through tackling and defensive moves. Other advantageous elements of football include increased muscular endurance, as well as improved flexibly and mobility, according to certified strength and conditioning specialist Phil Davies on the Sports Fitness Advisor website.
Psychological and Social Benefits
Abiding by the rules of the game and adhering to the coach’s instruction teaches players discipline and emotional temperance. The competitive aspect of the game helps the players learn how to deal with disappointment, develop resilience, practice good sportsmanship and learn how to grow from constructive criticism. Football can also instill confidence and self-esteem, and help players overcome shyness, Cisar explains. The fast-paced nature of the game requires players to harness a great deal of concentration, adaptability and quick thinking. Football can also help ward off depression, as well as help players develop positive social circles and role models, reports USA Football.
Competitive sports help teach teamwork, which translates into selflessness, cooperation and better communication skills. The structure of the game fosters important life skills, such as leadership, goal-setting and time-management skills. Organized group sports such as football also offer a host of other advantages that can benefit players in all aspects of their lives, including higher grades, greater family attachment, less participation in risky behaviors and increased involvement in volunteer work, reports the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- U.S. Anti-Doping Agency: True Sport Report -- Psychological and Social Benefits of Playing True Sport
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Benefits of Physical Activity
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 inutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Winning Youth Football: Defending Youth Football, The Benefits
- USA Football: Three Ways Your Child Will Benefit from Playing Youth Football
- Sports Fitness Advisor: Football Training Section