Playing soccer may improve overall health

March 1, 2013

Topic: sports medicine

Ways to prepare for a new sports season

Exercising on a regular basis can provide many benefits to a person's body. New sports medicine research published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reveals that playing soccer in particular can help individuals decrease their blood pressure levels.

Scientists studied 22 men who were between the ages of 31 and 54 over the course of six months. The subjects, who had either mild or moderate hypertension, played soccer twice a week for two one-hour sessions. They discovered that all participants improved their blood pressure, while 75 percent of them achieved healthy readings.

The study's investigators also observed that the subjects experienced better lung function, a decrease in body fat and lower resting heart rates.

These findings indicate that playing soccer regularly can improve fitness levels as well as heart health.

"The results of this study show that being physically active through soccer is not only a fun group activity, but can also promote health. Aerobic fitness achieved through soccer training can help improve several aspects of daily life," said the study's primary investigator Peter Krustrup, Ph.D., of the University of Exeter in the U.K.

Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity every week, and perform muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups in the body - including the arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, hips and legs - at least two days a week. In addition to decreasing blood pressure levels, physical activity can help control weight, reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and some cancers, strengthen bones and muscles, improve mental health and mood, and increase the chances of living longer, the agency states.

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