Apparently you can lose weight by playing recreational soccer.
A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (Krustup et al, 2009, 43:825-831) took 36 healthy untrained men and randomized them into three groups: a soccer group, a running group and a control group.
Training lasted for 1 hour two or three times per week for 12 weeks; at an average heart rate of 82% of HRmax for both the soccer and running groups.
At the end of the 12 weeks, the soccer group improved maximal oxygen uptake (a measure of aerobic fitness) 62% more than the running group. The soccer group also lost an average of 50% more fat than the running group (6lbs vs. 4lbs).
The researchers concluded that participation in recreational soccer training, has significant beneficial weight loss effects in some aspects it is superior to frequent moderate-intensity running.
To be honest these results surprised me for the simple reason that recreational soccer is usually played at a low level of intensity. Most of the guys that I know that play do it for the social aspect.
So what does this tell us about recreational a soccer and weight loss?
My guess would be the interval aspect of the training. Most top fat loss experts include some form of interval cardio to their weight loss programs. Not only that but also the multi-directional, multi-movement (jumping, heading, running, sprinting, kicking, tackling, with contact) and multi-planar actions.
Generally, this study shows that open interval training, using multiple movements and directions is superior for conditioning, muscle building and weight loss when compared to the same intensity of running.
So the next time you think you want to go for a long run or jog for your aerobic fitness, perhaps you should get out a soccer ball and kick it around. Get a soccer conditioning program