Type 2 diabetes is a condition that compromises cardiac function and is one leading risk factor for heart failure. A new research from the Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health at the University of Copenhagen finds that soccer training improves heart function, reduces blood pressure and elevates exercise capacity in diabetic men.
"We discovered that soccer training significantly improved the flexibility of the heart and furthermore, that the cardiac muscle tissue was able to work 29 percent faster. This means that after three months of training, the heart had become 10 years 'younger'," reports Jakob Friis Schmidt, who co-authored the study alongside Thomas Rostgaard Andersen.
AdvertisementThe effects of soccer training, consisting of small-sided games (5v5), on 21 men with type 2 diabetes, aged 37-60 years were analysed in the study. Sixty percent of the participants had high blood pressure and were on one or more pressure-reducing medications at the start of the study. Soccer training was found to be as effective as the administration of high blood pressure medication. It reduced the systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 8 mmHg.
The intermittent exercise capacity of participants was found to be elevated by 42%. A 12 % better oxygen delivery to the heart was noted. The observation that "the heart's contraction phase was improved and that the capacity of the heart to shorten was improved by 23%" is unique when compared to other types of physical activity.
The research thus proves that soccer has a great potential to help diabetic patients. It can reduce the need for medication. "An improved physical condition reduces the risk for other illnesses associated with type 2 diabetes and makes it easier to get along with daily tasks and maintain a physically active life" says Thomas Rostgaard. The results have been published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
The fact that researches on such aspects of treatment as the impact of exercise on health are done by the medical community is a pleasing one in this age when millions of dollars are focused on the development of more and more new drugs.
To summarise, it is now evident that doctors can start prescribing soccer as a good means to sustain a healthy heart for diabetic men. Of course, the underlying health condition should also be kept in mind.