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Recreational football for disease prevention and treatment in untrained men: a narrative review examining cardiovascular health, lipid profile, body composition, muscle strength and functional capacity
  1. Jens Bangsbo1,
  2. Peter Riis Hansen2,
  3. Jiri Dvorak3,
  4. Peter Krustrup1,4
  1. 1Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Cardiology, Gentofte Hospital, Gentofte, Denmark
  3. 3FIFA—Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) and Schulthess Klinik, Zurich, Switzerland
  4. 4Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Enviromental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Professor Peter Krustrup, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Ø 2100, Denmark; pkrustrup{at}


Over the past 10 years, researchers have studied the effects of recreational football training as a health-promoting activity for participants across the lifespan. This has important public health implications as over 400 million people play football annually. Results from the first randomised controlled trial, published in the BJSM in January 2009, showed that football increased maximal oxygen uptake and muscle and bone mass, and lowered fat percentage and blood pressure, in untrained men, and since then more than 70 articles about football for health have been published, including publications in two supplements of the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports in 2010 and 2014, prior to the FIFA World Cup tournaments in South Africa and Brazil. While studies of football training effects have also been performed in women and children, this article reviews the current evidence linking recreational football training with favourable effects in the prevention and treatment of disease in adult men.

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