Recreational Football and Health Benefits

in Miscellaneous

Poor physiological fitness arising as a consequence of a physical inactive lifestyle is a major contributor to the increasing prevalence of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and musculo-skeletal disorders, and metabolic-related risk factors have become a large and expanding health problem in modern society.

Thus, epidemiological studies and comprehensive meta-analyses of controlled randomized training studies have provided evidence that factors such as poor cardiorespiratory fitness, adiposity, insulin resistance and arteriosclerosis are independent threats to health and it is well established that exercise training may lower the risk for several cardiovascular and metabolic diseases .

Most studies looking at the effect of physical activities on health have focused on the cardiovascular and metabolic effect of aerobic exercise training such as walking, jogging, running and cycling . There has also been some interest in effects of strength training focusing on the risk of falls and fractures related to changes in bone strength and muscle function as well as the relationship between muscle mass and qualitative myofibrillar adaptations and insulin sensitivity. In addition, in the last decade, the effect of concurrent aerobic and strength training has also been examined.

However, few studies have investigated the health effects of regular participation in a variety of sports and physical activities, which involves aerobic high-intensity training and anaerobic training, including sprints and specific actions with a high impact on muscles and bone, such as football, team handball, basketball and ice-hockey.

Football is a popular sport traditionally played as 11 against 11 (11 vs 11), but it is also conducted as small-sided games, such as 3 against 3 (3 vs 3), 4 vs 4, 5 vs 5 and 7 vs 7. It has been established that the aerobic demands in recreational football are roughly similar to those in elite football training with periods of near-maximal heart rate values.

Football might be a sport that gets its players fighting fit, but as it turns out the story isn’t quite so simple for its dedicated fans. Nowadays, it is much easier to follow the score live of different champions leagues around the world by a few clicks. The fans literally fall in love with their stars regardless the position of the club in the league e.g. bundesliga table at the end of the season.

It has furthermore been shown that the activity profile during small-sided games is highly intermittent, with multiple turns, jumps and sprints, which provide a high impact on muscles and bones. On the other hand, football training and game play are also characterized by long periods of standing or walking, which is considered to have minimal or no influence on physical fitness.

On this basis, it appears highly relevant to examine how effectively regular football training may affect cardiovascular and musculoskeletal factors of importance for health and physical performance.

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