These days we are more conscious than ever of the need to keep fit.
The sheer amount of available keep-fit classes, gyms, dance and yoga studios, pilates nights, etc., is a testament to how serious we are taking this. However, 5-a-side is rarely mentioned in this context. 5-a-side is seen more like a social event, with the players made up by work or social buddies all united by a passion for a game.
This is one of the hidden benefits of the game. It brings together people that wouldn’t necessarily otherwise take part in any kind of fitness regime. The sheer fun of playing in a 5-a-side match takes away the “chore aspect” that many people associate with keeping fit and turns it into something to look forward to.
This is great because 5-side-football is one of the most versatile and effective ways of keeping fit. Here are some of the keep fit benefits that regular 5-a-side football provides.
5-a-side football involves a lot of running, and running is one of the best exercises for improving stamina. This is an intensive sport that doesn’t run for the full 90 minutes of the 11-a-side game, but during play, the level of exercise is exponentially higher than that of the big game.
Also, the stop-start nature of 5-a-side means that players often switch from 100% effort to a standstill during the course of a match. These short bursts of intense activity have been proven to be more effective at activating the body’s metabolic system than a prolonged exercise regime.
It’s an all-over workout
Unlike other exercises that target specific areas, in turn, 5-a-side football is the complete workout rolled into one fun package.
Playing 5-a-side football can improve:
- Muscular system – The entire muscular system, including legs, arms, back, and stomach, is given a thorough workout during a game.
- Cardiovascular system – The health of the cardiovascular system can be greatly improved by playing 5-a-side football. One study looked at 47 men who were all suffering from high blood pressure. The men were split into groups, with one group asked to play 5-side-football for an hour twice a week, the other group went running for the same time.
- After three months, the results were analysed, and those that played football had an average decrease in blood pressure that was twice as much as the runners.
- Balance and coordination – All those nicely executed turns that leave the opposition trailing in your wake are an important part of the game (and immensely pleasing when they go right). But we all can’t perform the Cruyff turn the first time we venture on the pitch or do a Ronaldo and spin on a sixpence. But with practice, the balance and coordination required improves, and although you may not reach the dizzy heights of Lionel Messi, it is always nice to dream.
Perhaps one of the more surprising aspects of the health benefits that 5-a-side football offers is the increase in bone density. It has always been known that regular running increases bone density, but a recent study has shown that once again, 5-a-side football is the clear winner.
The study concluded that those that played soccer had increased bone density more than twice that of runners. While the reasons are still not entirely clear, the results were conclusive.
Don’t forget mental health
The recent pandemic has brought many mental health issues to the fore. The anxieties and social disconnection caused by the lockdowns and uncertainties forced upon us caused a lot of mental stress.
Once again, 5-side-football has some startling and proven results when it comes to mental health. Exercise has long been touted as an excellent therapy for treating mental issues, but when this is mixed with the social aspect of the game, then the results are startling.
One study asked groups of men to rate their anxiety level on a scale of 0 to 6, with 6 being the most anxious. The study showed that those who played regular football had an average anxiety level of 2.8. Compared to those that simply went running, the runners had an average rating of 4.
It is believed that this effect is down to the “Flow” rating of the game. Psychologists think that regularly achieving a state of Flow is the key to strong mental health and increased happiness.
If you haven’t heard of Flow, then it is the state of mind that certain activities trigger when we are fully immersed in an enjoyable task. The level of concentration and focus required engages our brains completely and frees them from whatever worries we face.
5-side-football might just be the ultimate exercise regime. Both for physical and mental fitness, it offers a complete workout that other types of exercise can’t offer, and it’s great fun too.
Whatever your level of fitness, the benefits of 5-a-side can raise it up a few notches. At Astropark, we cater for all ages and fitness levels, and our all-weather facilities are the best in Dublin.