Soccer and Health > Soccer as treatment fo...
Through the last 4 years, an extensive research project has examined how recreational soccer affects the structure and function of the heart, maximal oxygen uptake, blood pressure, fat percentage, fat oxidation and cholesterol for untrained men and women with elevated risk of lifestyle-related diseases and whether regular soccer training can be used as treatment for high blood pressure. The results are clear: A regular game of soccer is an effective treatment of high blood pressure and has a broad, positive effect on risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
The project has been carried out in collaboration between Department of Exercise and Sports Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, Department of Cardiology at Gentofte Hospital, Copenhagen University Hospital, Amager Hospital, University of Parthenope in Italy, UZH (Zürich University) and FIFA's research unit F-MARC. In February 2010 six scientific articles are published from the project in Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.
- Men with high blood pressure
- Cardio-vascular effects on women
- Overweight and cholesterol
- Previous studies of men
Two articles examines the effect of 3 months of soccer practise on 20-45 and 30-55 year old men with mild-to-moderate hypertension (Andersen et al., 2010b, Knoepfli-Lenzin et al., 2010) and further 4 articles examines the cardiovascular effects of 3-4 and 15-16 months of soccer practise on both 20-45 year old women (Bangsbo et al. 2010, Krustrup et al., 2010a+b) and 20-40 year old men (Randers et al., 2010b; Andersen et al. 2010a).
In new studies of untrained men aged 30-55 (Andersen et al., 2010b) and habitually active men aged 20-45 (Knoepfli-Lenzin et al., 2010), both groups with mild to moderate high blood pressure, the test persons played soccer for 1 hour 2 to 2.5 times a week during 3 months. In the study by Andersen et al. 2010, the systolic and diastolic blood pressure fell by 12 and 7 mmHg respectively, while another group of men that were given advice on healthy diet, exercise and regular blood pressure measurements by medical doctors did not experience a fall in blood pressure. Likewise, Knoepfli-Lenzin et al. (2010) found a reduction of the diastolic blood pressure of 9 mmHg. The studies show that soccer is an effective form of exercise that can lower the blood pressure in hypertensive patients within a relatively short frame.
In a research study of untrained women aged 20-45, the cardiovascular effects of 16 weeks of soccer and running twice a week for 1 hour were examined. Besides the tests of physical capacity, blood pressure and cholesterol, this study also included echo-cardiography and measurements of endothelial function.
The study showed that soccer has a positive effect on the structure and function of the heart, lowers the blood pressure and improves oxygen intake and the elasticity of the vascular system (Andersen et al. 2010a; Bangsbo et al. 2010; Krustrup et al. 2010b). After 16 weeks of training, a 13 % increase of the left ventricular end-diastolic volume as well as an increase of the left ventricular wall thickness from 8.5 to 9.0 mm was observed. The right ventricle's diameter was increased by 12% (Andersen et al. 2010a).
Doppler echocardiography showed a significant improvement in the diastolic pump activity. Thus E/A (the relations between the passive filling of the heart early in the diastole and the active filling of the heart under contraction of the auricles late in the diastole) rose from 1.4 to 2.2.
Furthermore, TDE (Tissue Doppler Echocardiography) showed increases of the left ventricular relaxation rates of 14. The isovolumetric relaxation rate dropped significantly by 26%. The left ventricular maximal systolic contraction-rate increased by 26% and the left ventricular maximal systolic longitudinal shortening increased by 13%. The right ventricular longitudinal systolic shortening increased by 16%. This concludes that soccer training for women causes consistent heart adaptation that may have significant importance for the cardiovascular health profile (Andersen et al. 2010a).
The research group also focused on the effect of soccer on fat mass and blood lipid profile as overweight and high cholesterol contributes to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In several soccer training studies of women (Krustrup et al. 2010a+b+c) and men (Krustrup et al. 2009a, Randers et al. 2010, Knoepfli-Lenzin et al., 2010, Andersen et al. 2010b), a significant decrease in fat mass has been observed: 1.5-2 kg for women and 2-3 kg for men, and a further increase after a longer time of training (e.g. 3.7 kg for men after 16 months of training: Randers et al. 2010b). Several of the soccer studies have established improvement in cholesterol level with a decrease of LDL cholesterol (Krustrup et al. 2009a), total cholesterol, and the relation between HDL/LDL (Krustrup et al. 2010b; Knoepfli-Lenzin et al., 2010) after 12-16 weeks of training for the 20-45 year old women and 20-50 year old men.
Previous studies from the Department of Exercise and Sports Sciences showed how 3 months of soccer twice a week for one hour provides marked improvements in oxygen intake, fat burning, muscle capillarisation and significant reductions of fat mass, cholesterol and blood pressure in healthy, untrained men aged 20-40 (Krustrup et al., 2009a+b). For instance, their fitness rating went up 13%, fat weight went down 2.7 kg and systolic and diastolic blood pressure dropped by 7 and 4 mmHg respectively (Krustrup et al. 2009a). The study also showed that the positive effects of soccer training were at least as good as those of running and significantly better than in strength training (Krustrup et al. 2010a, Nybo et al. 2010).
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