Loved football in school and college but could not continue playing it later in life? Well, the game gives you a lot more than good fun and great exercise, especially when you are over 60 years old, suggests a new study.
Long-term recreational football training improves the health of 63-75 year old untrained men — reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, says the research.
“The improvements contribute significantly to reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes,” said lead researcher Thomas Rostgaard Andersen from Copenhagen University’s department of nutrition, exercise and sports.
The study, published in the international journal PLOS ONE, went on over a full year and examined both the immediate effects and the long-term benefits of the training.
All participants completed the full 52 weeks of training and most of the participants are still playing football together twice a week — two years after the research period finished.
The findings showed that after 4 months’ football training, the cardiovascular fitness scores improved by 15%, interval work capacity increased by 43% and functional capacity by 30%.
After a year a 3% reduction in BMI, with an increased ability to control blood sugar and an improved capacity to handle harmful oxygen radicals, the study found.
“In this study we saw how the participants reduced their body weight without losing muscle mass”, added another researcher Jens Bangsbo.
“Similar changes are typically observed after periods of strength training, and this underlines the fact that recreational football is an effective alternative to the training that is normally carried out to preserve muscle mass in older people. And football training is also sociable and fun, which motivate and keep inactive people exercising,” Bangsbo added.
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