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But can football, when played just for fun, really achieve the desired effect? A recently published study investigated the physical exertion involved in playing indoor five-a-side football. It revealed that the recreational performed at 70% of their maximum heart rate for more than 90% of a 30-minute game. Football is thus strenuous enough to enhance your stamina and circulation.
Irrespective of the position you play, your weight and your ability, you work off about 110 to 200 kilocalories every quarter of an hour playing football, which is comparable with jogging, fast skiing and climbing stairs, and more than tennis or power walking.
But how much is enough? In principal, the more you exercise, the more beneficial it is. If you do more than the minimum recommendation, you can enhance your performance capability, the preventive effect against diseases and your sense of well-being. Yet this relationship shows saturation, as the benefit increases only negligibly above an additional weekly burn of 3,000 calories, which corresponds to running 60 kilometers.
It remains debatable whether it is enough to engage only in weekend exercise after spending five sluggish days at work. Experimental investigations indicate that the positive metabolic effect on blood pressure, blood lipids and insulin lasts between a few hours and two days at the most. Moreover, it appears to last longer when a person is engaging in average activity levels than whey they rich maximum workload. So hyperactivity on the Sunday is not the solution. “Based on current findings, it appears that playing football for an hour three times a week is the ideal recipe for achieving a lasting effect,” says Dvorak. “And it is realistic …”
The barrier to playing football is a low one, especially in less developed countries. Pitches, balls and goals can quickly be improvised. There is enormous potential here for emerging and developing nations with neither the financial or human resources nor the infrastructure for extensive sports offerings. In view of the constantly rising rates, hypertension, diabetes and other civilization diseases in many countries in Africa, Asia, and South America and in island nations, the targeted promotion of (street) football in such regions could prove an ideal preventive tool for the respective nation’s health and open up entirely new dimensions.