Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Burn it like Beckham!

Surprise! Best Exercise for Weight Loss
If you want to lose weight, get off the treadmill. Join a soccer league instead.

According to research from Copenhagen University in Denmark, a friendly game of soccer works off more fat and builds up more muscle than jogging. The Associated Press quips: "There's a new slogan for weight-watchers: Burn it like Beckham."

The study: Thirty-seven men ages 31 to 33, all of whom had similar health profiles, were divided into three groups: soccer players, joggers and couch potatoes. Three times a week for three months, the men regularly played soccer, ran or did no exercise. Heart monitors were strapped on their chests during exercise, and blood samples and muscle tissue were taken before and after matches or jogging sessions. Each exercise period lasted for one hour.

The results: At the end of the 12-week study period, the body fat percentage in the soccer players dropped by 3.7 percent, compared with 2 percent for the joggers. The soccer players also felt less tired after exercising than the joggers because they were having more fun and scoring goals, reports AP. Meanwhile, the joggers reported being exhausted after each hour-long run. Muscle mass in the soccer players increased by almost 4.5 pounds; there was no significant change in the joggers' muscle mass. (Not surprisingly, there was no change in body fat or muscle mass in the couch potatoes.)

"Even though the football (soccer) players were untrained, there were periods in the game that were so intense that their cardiovascular was maximally taxed, just like professional football (soccer) players," Dr. Peter Krustrup, head of Copenhagen University's department of exercise and sport sciences, who led the study, told AP.

Although the soccer players and the joggers had the same average heart rate during exercise, the soccer players got a better workout because of more intense bursts of activity. The researchers found there were times during the soccer matches when the players' hearts were pumping at 90 percent their full capacity, but the joggers' hearts were never pushed that hard.

Warning: If you've been one of those couch potatoes most of your life, you don't want to suddenly jump into intense exercise. Instead, ease into a fitness routine with moderate activity and work up from there.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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