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When football boosts health

Friday June 20th, 2014

Playing football may be better for the blood pressure than watching the World Cup in Brazil, researchers said last night.

A new project has encouraged middle-aged women to take up playing football - and found it can help cut blood pressure.

The project is being conducted in Denmark and has been evaluated by Exeter University in the UK.

The study found that blood pressure fell by at least 6mm - and that women lost 2.3kg in fat on average.

Researchers claimed that playing football was twice as effective as taking up swimming.

Women in the project do not play in competitive games but take part in training in a "fun, sociable and healthy way", developers say.

But some of the women have gone on to form their own team.

Findings from the project, involving 41 women, were reported in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.

Researcher Professor Peter Krustrup said: "Recreational football is an effective therapy for poor fitness and high blood pressure in 35 to 50-year-old women.

"As well as the impressive effects on blood pressure and body composition, we also saw a drop in cholesterol and a big improvement in physical fitness as a result of the 15 weeks of football training.

"In fact, the women were able to run more than twice as far in a Yo-Yo Intermittent Endurance Test and their heart rate was 14 beats per minute lower when working at moderate intensity."

Project leader Magni Mohr said: "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."

* The study showed that after 15 weeks of participation in recreational football, systolic and diastolic blood pressure had fallen by 12 and 6mm of mercury.

* A second study in the same journal says football can improve the strength of men with prostate cancer.

The project, also conducted in Denmark, aimed to help men rebuild their strength following the devastating effects of the hormone-blocking treatment they have to undergo.

Researchers said twelve weeks of football improved muscle mass by 0.5 kg on average.

Researcher Julie Midtgaard, of The Copenhagen University Hospital Rigshospitalet, said: "The study indicates that men with prostate cancer benefit greatly from recreational football, both physically and mentally.

"It has also proved to be easy to keep the men involved in physical activity once they have started playing football. They look forward to going to training and enjoy it tremendously when they get there."

Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 19 June 2014

Tags: Cancer | Europe | Fitness | Heart Health | Menís Health | UK News | Womenís Health & Gynaecology

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