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Recreational football is effective in the treatment of non-communicable diseases
  1. Peter Krustrup1,2,
  2. Jens Bangsbo1
  1. 1Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Enviromental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jens Bangsbo, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Ø 2100, Denmark; jbangsbo{at}

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A decade ago, it was established that physical activity is a cornerstone in the non-pharmacological prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases,1 and there is increasing evidence that sports participation has the potential to improve the health of nations.2 In recent years, more than 60 scientific articles have shown that recreational football training conducted as small-sided games (3v3 to 7v7) has substantial fitness and health benefits for untrained individuals.3–6 Such easy-to-do training has resulted in reduced blood pressure and resting heart rate, reduced fat mass and lipid profile, and favourably changed cardiac function and size, muscle mass, bone mineralisation and functional capacity. This applied for participants across the lifespan—irrespective of gender, social status and prior football experience.

Best evidence for football and running

Among healthy individuals, the effects of recreational football training are more broad-spectred (more systems benefitted) and more pronounced than training modalities such as cycling, swimming, jogging, walking and strength training, suggesting that football may be a more powerful stimulus for health.3 ,5 ,7 A very recent systematic review on the health benefits of different sport disciplines for adults, published last month in BJSM …

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