Exercise football lowers weight and blood pressure in 45-year-old women – University of Copenhagen

Forward this page to a friend Resize Print Bookmark and Share

wcsf2015 > News > 45 year old women

29 January 2015

Exercise football lowers weight and blood pressure in 45-year-old women

RESEARCH

Women aged 35-50 with moderately elevated blood pressure achieve a significant drop in blood pressure and body fat percentage by playing exercise football for 15 weeks. This is the finding of new research carried out in a collaboration between researchers from four countries led by Peter Krustrup of the Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health at the University of Copenhagen.

Untrained women aged 35–50 with moderately elevated blood pressure achieved a significant improvement in physical condition and a considerable drop in blood pressure and body fat percentage after 3 x 1-hour football training sessions per week over 15 weeks.

Recently the acclaimed Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports published two articles on exercise football for older women. The first shows that 35–50-year-old untrained women with moderately elevated blood pressure achieved a significant improvement in physical condition and a considerable drop in blood pressure and body fat percentage after 3 x 1-hour football training sessions per week over 15 weeks. The second describes the exercise football concept Football Fitness, which is currently being rolled out in football clubs across the country. The concept is launching football in a new way that the women are excited about and where health benefits are built in.

Exercise football lowers weight and blood pressure

“After 15 weeks of participating in exercise football, systolic and diastolic blood pressure had fallen by 12 and 6 mmHg, and the women had lost 2.3 kg of fat on average,” said project leader Magni Mohr. “The football training produced an impressive lowering of blood pressure that was more than twice as great as that for swimming performed for the same period as football.”

The researchers also found that the women enjoyed playing football even if they had no prior experience of the game.

“The players turned up for training loyally, with an attendance rate of more than 90%. And throughout the project period they came to enjoy playing so much that they have now started their own football club,” said Mohr.

Effective remedy for poor fitness and elevated blood pressure

“Our previous studies showed that 16 weeks of football training reduces blood pressure in 20–45-year-old women with normal blood pressure, but this study is the first to investigate the effects of exercise football in women with elevated blood pressure,” said Professor Peter Krustrup, who has spent 10 years studying the health effects of exercise football and many other forms of physical activity.

“In addition to the impressive effects on blood pressure and body composition, we also saw a fall in cholesterol and a big improvement in physical condition resulting from 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,” said Krustrup. “Exercise football is an effective remedy for poor fitness and elevated blood pressure in 35–50-year-old women.”

Football Fitness is hot

“Traditionally, there have not been many women over 25 in Danish football clubs, but the relatively new initiative of Football Fitness, where the target group is over-25s of both genders, has really taken off with women,” said sports sociologist Laila Ottesen, who is in the middle of an extensive study of the Football Fitness concept, launched in 2011 by the Danish Football Association and the Sports Confederation of Denmark.

“There are currently 180 football clubs across the country offering Football Fitness. In just a few years, the initiative has become a huge success, especially with women, many of whom have not been involved in a football club before, which we find very interesting,” said Ottesen.

“Football Fitness is about training in a fun, social and healthy way and not about playing matches against local rivals because matches are not part of the package, which is a significant break with classic recreational football. The concept is an example of how an established sport such as football is responding to the outside world and trying to reinvent itself. An outside world where increased health focus and increased flexibility in relation to sport are putting pressure on traditional club sport. And it seems that more and more clubs are embracing the concept and that this is often contributing to a positive club environment,” said Ottesen.