Soccer is a great sport for weight loss because it works your muscles and your heart in different ways. Soccer builds more muscle mass and burns more fat by recruiting both slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers. As a cardio workout, soccer playing burns more calories than typical workouts because you're forced to switch between using your aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways. Unlike some cardio activities, soccer builds and preserves muscle mass, boosting your metabolism instead of encouraging muscle loss.
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Playing soccer game burns about 260 calories in just half an hour for a 155-pound person. To lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you consume. To be more exact, you have to burn 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat. Therefore, if you play soccer for an hour three times a week, you can burn an extra 1,500 calories each week, and lose 2 pounds each month from soccer alone. Because a soccer game requires you to constantly exert effort at various levels of intensity, it gives you an aerobic and anaerobic workout. By constantly switching between using those energy systems, you burn more calories.
According to the University of Copenhagen, regular soccer playing has been found to lower body fat. Soccer works fast-twitch muscle fibers because you use explosive power for sprinting, jumping, changing directions quickly, and other explosive movements in a soccer game. Fast-twitch fibers require stored glucose for energy, so using them releases fat-burning hormones that continue burning fat during and after your workout. This causes you to burn more fat than you would working your slow-twitch fibers by doing steady-paced aerobic exercise.
Playing soccer works both fast-twitch during explosive movements and slow-twitch muscle fibers during aerobic activity, and working more muscle fibers stimulates more muscle growth. You use every major muscle group for soccer, and challenge your lower body in particular, including your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism, so by building up your large muscle groups efficiently, you'll burn more fat even off the field.
Tips and Safety Considerations
Play soccer at least three times a week for weight loss results if you're not doing additional workouts. However, you should do two strength training workouts each week to exercise all major muscle groups. This can help with injury prevention and better performance during soccer, and you'll boost your metabolism more by building more muscle mass. Warm up before and cool down after workouts and games. Stretch your muscles after workouts to prevent tightness and injuries.
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- University of Copenhagen: Soccer as Prevention of and Treatment for Lifestyle-Related Diseases
- Mayo Clinic: Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight Loss Benefits
- Women's Fitness: The Real Secret to Fat Loss
- Brian Mac: Energy Pathways