While football is usually seen as a man's game, playing it can help reduce blood pressure among women between 35 and 50 years of age, a new study reveals.
Women within this age group with mild high blood pressure achieve a significant reduction in blood pressure and body fat percentage through playing recreational football for 15 weeks. This is the finding of a new study conducted in a collaboration between researchers across four countries, including Professor Peter Krustrup of the University of Exeter.
The acclaimed Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
is today publishing two articles on recreational football for older women. The first article shows that 35‒50-year-old untrained women with mild high blood pressure achieve a significant improvement in physical fitness and a considerable reduction in blood pressure and body fat percentage after 3 x 1-hour football training sessions per week over 15 weeks. The second article describes the enthusiasm of women for the recreational football concept Football Fitness, which is currently being rolled out in football clubs across Denmark.
"After 15 weeks of participation in recreational football, systolic and diastolic blood pressure had fallen by 12 and 6 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and the women had lost 2.3 kg of fat on average," says project leader Magni Mohr. "The football training produced an impressive reduction in blood pressure that was more than twice as big as with swimming performed over the same period as the football."
The researchers also found that women like playing football even if they have no previous experience of the game. Magni Mohr added: "The players faithfully attended training, with an attendance rate of over 90%. In fact, through the project period they came to enjoy playing so much that they have now started up their own football club."
"Our previous studies have shown that 16 weeks of football training reduces blood pressure in 20‒45-year-old women with normal blood pressure, but this is the first study that has looked at the effects of recreational football in women with high blood pressure," says Professor Peter Krustrup, who has been studying the health effects of recreational football and many other forms of physical activity for the past 10 years.