New studies suggest that football training produces significant changes in body composition and glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes patients, and effectively lowers blood pressure in men with high blood pressure.
The studies were carried out by the Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health at the University of Copenhagen.
The studies show that 24 weeks of twice-weekly recreational football training sessions lower blood pressure and improves heart function in men with high blood pressure and men with type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, men with type 2 diabetes lost 12% of their abdominal fat and reduced their blood sugar 20 percent more than inactive control subjects.
These effects are likely to reduce the risk of developing heart diseases including heart failure and myocardial infarction, and the participants had a reduced need for antidiabetic and antihypertensive medication on completion of the studies.
The projects investigated the effects of football training in 21 men with type 2 diabetes and 32 men with high blood pressure aged 30?60 years with focus on metabolic and cardiovascular changes.
Football training increases heart rate and improves general health
"I feel I have more energy in my day-to-day life, and it's definitely connected with being fitter," says Soren Sonberg with type 2 diabetes, who participated in one of the projects.
"The average heart rate during training was higher than 80% of maximum heart rate, and for significant periods it was higher than 90%. This type of training is very effective, and after 24 weeks of training physical fitness, measured as maximal oxygen uptake, was 10% higher for the participants with high blood pressure and 12% higher for those with diabetes.
At the same time, the diabetes patients lost almost 2 kg of fat. A better fitness combined with a lower body fat percentage makes it easier to carry out daily activities, Professor Jens Bangsbo, leader of the projects, said.
"We found that football training in men with type 2 diabetes significantly reduced abdominal fat and improved glycaemic control, which is essential for managing diabetes and preventing diabetic complications," Bangsbo said.
The findings are published in the acclaimed Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.