Recreational football for health
- Recreational football may be an effective therapy for non-communicable diseases.
- It is effective in treating hypertension and type-2 diabetes mellitus.
- These are the findings of a study that compares the benefits of different sports.
Recreational football has a broad-spectred benefits for health. Among healthy individuals, recreational football has more benefits than other sports and training modalities such as cycling, swimming, jogging, walking, or other strength training do.
In 2015 two meta-analyses highlighted that the best evidence for health effects of sports was found in football and running. A new meta-analysis was conducted in collaboration between associate professor Zoran Milanovic and his team at the University of Nis, Serbia, and Peter Krustrup and his team at SDU in Denmark.
‘Recreational football may be the most beneficial of all sports for non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, and diabetes. It also offers positive social interaction which makes it an enjoyable therapy.’
The research team recommended using a small-sided football training rather than competitive games, as the injury risk is only 1/5 to 1/12 during training compared to games. No competitive matches are required. It could be a type of football that can be played by all, regardless of age, gender, level of football experience and physical fitness.
Football for non-communicable diseases
Football training is an effective and multifaceted therapy for cardiovascular, metabolic, and musculoskeletal fitness.
"The most prominent results are that short-term football training is as effective as drugs against high blood pressure and as effective as high-intensity interval training (HIIT-training) in terms of increasing aerobic fitness. Together these effects lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases by more than 50 percent and may considerably lower the risk of death. In addition, there are multiple positive effects on body composition and lipid profile, making football a very attractive type of broad-spectrum non-pharmacological intervention against lifestyle diseases", professor Krustrup concludes.
The facts are that 3-6 months of 1 hour football training twice a week increases maximal oxygen uptake by 3.51 mL/min/kg and jump performance by 2.3 cm and lowers fat mass by 1.72 kg, LDL cholesterol by 0.21 mmol/L and resting heart rate by 6.0 beats/min for untrained men and women aged 18-75 years, and lowers blood pressure by 11/7 mmHg for 30-70-year-old patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension.
"After 10 years of research, the evidence is now sufficiently strong to state that football is medicine. Football is broad-spectrum medicine for patients with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and other lifestyle diseases," said Peter Krustrup
He also concluded that the results from the meta-analysis clearly emphasizes that football training is an intense, effective and versatile type of training that combines HIIT-training, endurance training, and strength training.
- Peter Krustrup, Jens Bangsbo et al. Recreational Football is Effective in The Treatment of Non-communicable Diseases, British Journal of Sports Medicine http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2015-094955