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Small-sided football in schools and leisure-time sport clubs improves physical fitness, health profile, well-being and learning in children
  1. Peter Krustrup1,2,
  2. Jiri Dvorak3,4,
  3. Jens Bangsbo1
  1. 1 Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2 Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  3. 3 F-MARC, Zurich, Switzerland
  4. 4 Schulthess Klinik, Zurich, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Professor Peter Krustrup, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen 2100 Ø, Denmark; pkrustrup{at}

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Small-sided football training is an intense, versatile, enjoyable and social training type of exercise that combines high-intensity cardiovascular, endurance and strength training for participants across the lifespan. A mere 2×60 min weekly training is effective for broad-spectrum prevention and treatment of lifestyle diseases. Our conclusion is based on results of more than 100 scientific articles published since January 2009 in 30 international peer-reviewed journals.1–3 This evidence has led senior researchers to conclude in The Lancet that ‘there is increasing evidence that sports participation has the potential to improve the health of nations’.4 Also, among the available evidence on the health benefits of different sport disciplines for adults, ‘The best evidence was found for football and running. These can especially improve cardiovascular and metabolic health’.5

Fitness and health effects of football for children

About one-third of the Football for Health studies have investigated football training in schools and in sports clubs. The conclusions are encouraging: (1) small-sided football training induces high heart rates, a large number of intense actions along with high involvement, technical success rates and training effects for boys and girls irrespective of body mass index, fitness …

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