Positive effects of 1-year football and strength training on mechanical muscle function and functional capacity in elderly men

Emil Sundstrup, Markus Due Jakobsen, Lars Louis Andersen, Thomas Rostgaard Andersen, Morten Bredsgaard Randers, Jørn Wulff Helge, Charlotte Suetta, Jakob Friis Schmidt, Jens Bangsbo, Peter Krustrup, Per Aagaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


PURPOSE: A decline in physical capacity takes place with increasing age that negatively affects overall physical function including work ability and the ability to perform typical activities of daily living (ADL). The overall aim of the present study was to determine the neuromuscular adaptations to long-term (1 year) football and strength training in older untrained adults, and to assess the concurrent effect on functional ADL capacity.

METHODS: Twenty-seven healthy elderly males (68.2 ± 3.2 years) were randomly assigned to 12 months of either recreational football training (FT: n = 10), strength training (ST: n = 9) or served as inactive controls (CON: n = 8). Recreational football training consisted of small-sided training sessions whereas strength training consisted of high intensity exercises targeting the lower extremity and upper body. Maximal thigh muscle strength and rate of force development (RFD) were assessed with isokinetic dynamometry, while postural balance and vertical jumping performance were evaluated using force plate analysis. Furthermore, functional ability was evaluated by stair-ascent and chair-rising testing.

RESULTS: A total of nine, nine and seven participants from FT, ST and CON, respectively, were included in the analysis. Both exercise regimens led to substantial gains in functional ability, evidenced by 24 and 18 % reduced stair-ascent time, and 32 and 21 % increased chair-rising performance in FT and ST, respectively (all P < 0.05). Long-term strength training led to increased concentric (14 %; P < 0.01) and isometric (23 %; P < 0.001) quadriceps and isometric hamstring strength (44 %; P < 0.0001), whereas football training mainly resulted in enhanced hamstring strength (18 %, P < 0.05) and RFD (89 %, P < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: Long-term (1 year) strength training led to increased quadriceps and hamstring strength, whereas the adaptations to football training mainly included enhanced strength and rapid force capacity of the hamstring muscles. Gains in functional ability were observed in response to both training regimens, evidenced by reduced stair-ascent time and increased chair-rising performance. Long-term football exercise and strength training both appear to be effective interventional strategies to improve factors of importance for ADL by counteracting the age-related decline in lower limb strength and functional capacity among old male adults. This could potentially be a way to improve work ability of senior workers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1127-1138
Publication statusPublished - 11. Apr 2016


  • Activities of daily living
  • CMJ
  • Hamstring
  • Muscle strength
  • Postural balance
  • Quadriceps
  • RFD
  • Sit-to-stand

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