The 2014 World Cup is now just a memory; however, researchers have discovered that playing soccer (or football) can provide significant health benefits for women aged 35 and older with mild hypertension.
Published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports (2014; 24 [S1], 36–42), the study aimed to determine how a 15-week soccer program would affect fat mass, blood pressure and fitness among inactive premenopausal women aged 35–50. The small study featured 41 subjects; 21 of them participated in three hourlong “small-sided” soccer sessions per week, while the rest functioned as a nonexercise control group.
Compared with the control group, soccer players saw improvements in blood pressure scores, significant reductions in fat mass and total cholesterol, and gains in endurance. “Short-term football training resulted in a marked reduction in blood pressure and induced multiple improvements in [the] fitness and cardiovascular health [profiles] of untrained, premenopausal women with mild hypertension,” explained the study authors.