Soccer vs. jogging vs. couch potato: the winner is?

Get a kick: Is soccer better exercise compared to jogging? That's the question posed by Danish researchers in a recent study. (Flickr photo by probek)
Get a kick: Is soccer better exercise compared to jogging? That's the question posed by Danish researchers in a recent study. (Flickr photo by probek)
I know at least one regular Science Buzz contributor will be ecstatic over this latest bit of health news. So who showed the most personal health improvement when you compare soccer players to joggers to couch potatoes?

That was the question posed by Danish researchers who conducted a 12-week study of 37 men with similar health profiles going into the study. One third of the men played soccer for recreation over the course of the study, one third jogged and one third (the group I’d have liked to have been in) were couch potatoes.

After 12 weeks, here’s what they found out: Soccer players showed the most personal health improvement. Their body fat percentage went down 3.7% while their muscle mass increased 4.5 pounds. Joggers' fat percentage went down 2 percent and their muscle mass did not change significantly. Obviously, the couch potatoes health benchmarks got worse.

And through questions posed to the participants, researchers learned that soccer players felt less tired than the joggers after exercising as they were having more fun participating in that activity.

A lot of that makes a lot of common sense, but there is actually more science at play. The head of the study said soccer is a great exercise to improve health because soccer players get a better workout made up of intense bursts of activity. During those bursts, their hearts were pumping at up to 90 percent efficiency, a level that the joggers never came close to approaching.

Of course, us couch potatoes get a great workout for our fingers on the remote control. Talk about burst of energy, there’s nothing that moves my fingers faster than five or six bad channels in a row!

So what do you think? Is soccer better exercise than jogging? Is there another form of physical activity that’s even better? What’s the best workout? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

And you can also weigh in with your thoughts about soccer on another Science Buzz section…is soccer the most exciting sport to watch? Check it out by clicking here.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Joe's picture
Joe says:

For me, soccer is way better than jogging. Its competitive, its exciting, its fast paced...its a lot of things jogging is not. The advantage to jogging is that you can do it anytime (soccer games tend to be more scheduled) and you can jog alone. You can practice soccer anytime and alone, but neither are as much fun as playing a game. I wonder how much soccer they played and if it included practices or only games?

posted on Mon, 09/24/2007 - 9:00am
Is This Betting's picture
Is This Betting says:

I think the results of the study are not surprising - soccer does involve short bursts of energy - at high speed sometime. However, from my experiences of football (hey I'm English!) plenty of my time was spent standing still or walking slowly (the ball never came to me).

I would have thought joggers got more satisfaction out of their activity though soccer is fun.

We hear over here that soccer is getting more popular. Is that the case?

posted on Mon, 09/24/2007 - 3:56pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Soccer is getting more popular here in the US. If you play it the right way you should get a lot more excercise than just jogging.

posted on Tue, 09/25/2007 - 11:43am
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Yes, soccer is growing in popularity, though it will have to come a very long way before it has even close to the same level of interest as baseball, American football, basketball or even hockey.

posted on Wed, 09/26/2007 - 12:24pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Any form of exercise is good to me.

posted on Tue, 09/25/2007 - 11:45am
Cristian's picture
Cristian says:

Soccer is a way better sport than jogging, you have to use more muscles than when ur jogging and you also have to put more effort into it, and jogging is boring.

posted on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 11:05am
Ye-Chan's picture
Ye-Chan says:

I would compare soccer to running intervals. Always jogging/running that's broken up with short burst of sprinting. Studies seem to indicate that running intervals is more conducive to achieve a greater fitness level and burning fat.

posted on Sat, 01/10/2009 - 3:09pm
Paul's picture
Paul says:

Even though I am the worlds biggest running fan, I have to hand it to soccer when it comes to a good workout. Not only do you end up running a few K, but you also get a pretty awesome core workout.

Paul from My Running Shoes

posted on Tue, 12/15/2009 - 11:15am

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