Good news for football lovers! Scientists have discovered that playing football is the best way to improve fitness,normalise blood pressure and reduce risk of stroke.
The study from Universities of Exeter and Copenhagen,and Gentofte University Hospital in Denmark found that playing the sport was more effective than other healthy lifestyle advices.
After six months of football training,three out of four men in the study had blood pressure within the normal,healthy range,the Daily Mail reported.
It has long been known that physical exercise can reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension,but until now little evidence is available on which form of exercise is most effective.
The research team recruited 33 men aged between 33 and 54 with mild to moderate hypertension.
They randomly divided them in two groups: one took part in two hour-long football training sessions a week while the other received usual care by general practitioner (GP) including advice about the importance of physical activity and a healthy diet,together with control blood pressure measurements.
The effects on exercise capacity,maximal oxygen uptake,body fat and blood pressure,were monitored after three months and at the end of the six-month trial.
For the football-playing group,average mean blood pressure was reduced by 10 mmHg,while the reduction was only 5 mmHg in the control group receiving the usual GP advice.
Oxygen uptake and exercise capacity also improved by 10 per cent among the footballers,with resting heart rate decreasing by eight beats per minute and body fat mass dropping by an average of 1.8 kilogrammes.
There were no significant changes to these health measures in the control group.
The men who had taken part in football training were also found to be less physically strained during moderate intensity exercise. When taking part in activities such as cycling,they had markedly lower heart rates and elevated fat burning.
“Only two hour-long football training sessions a week for six months caused a remarkable 13/8 mmHg in arterial blood pressure,with three out of four participants normalising their blood pressure during the study period,” lead researcher Professor Peter Krustrup of the University of Exeter said.
Senior cardiologist from Gentofte University Hospital in Denmark,Peter Riis Hansen,also emphasised that evidence suggested that the decrease in blood pressure after football training lead to a considerable reduction in the risk of stroke,myocardial infarction and death.
The study was published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.