Effects of recreational football on women's fitness and health: adaptations and mechanisms

Peter Krustrup, Eva Wulff Helge, Peter R Hansen, Per Aagaard, Marie Hagman, Morten B Randers, Maysa de Sousa, Magni Mohr

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The review describes the fitness and health effects of recreational football in women aged 18-65 years. The review documents that 2 × 1 h of recreational football training for 12-16 weeks causes marked improvements in maximal oxygen uptake (5-15%) and myocardial function in women. Moreover, mean arterial blood pressure was shown to decrease by 2-5 mmHg in normotensive women and 6-8 mmHg in hypertensive women. This review also show that short-term (< 4 months) and medium-term (4-16 months) recreational football training has major beneficial impact on metabolic health profile in women, with fat losses of 1-3 kg and improvements in blood lipid profile. Lastly, 2 × 1 h per week of recreational football training for women elevates lower extremity bone mineralisation by 1-5% and whole-body bone mineralization by 1-2% within 4-12-month interventions. These training adaptations are related to the high heart rates, high number of fast runs, and multiple changes of direction and speed occurring during recreational football training for untrained women. In conclusion, regular small-sided football training for women is an intense and versatile type of training that combines elements of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), endurance training and strength training, thereby providing optimal stimuli for cardiovascular, metabolic and musculoskeletal fitness. Recreational football, therefore, seems to be an effective tool for prevention and treatment of lifestyle diseases in young and middle-aged women, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes and osteopenia. Future research should elucidate effects of football training for elderly women, and as treatment and rehabilitation of breast cancer patients and other women patient groups.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Volume118
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)11-32
ISSN1439-6319
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Female
  • Football/physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal/physiology
  • Osteogenesis
  • Physical Fitness
  • Women's Health

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