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Football Beats Hypertension – Study on “Healthy” Football

You might think that the excitement and thrill of a football game would elevate your blood pressure. A new study, however, suggests the opposite. Football training can lead to better blood pressure control.

A group of German researchers aimed to show how football could lead to more and better physical activity in patients with cardiovascular risk factors. With the study ‘3F: Fit and Fun Football’, the authors wanted to prove that a modified ‘healthy’ football training program could motivate hypertensive patients to return to sports and physical activity, reducing the risk of illness.

Method

‘3F Fit and Fun with Football’ is a prospective interventional study with a 1-year follow-up. During this time, 103 hypertensive patients over 45 years old and who hadn’t exercised for several years (the ‘football group’) followed a structured ‘healthy-football’ training program (one 90-minute workout session per week) led by Deutscher Fußball Bund-licensed football coaches. The control group included 105 individuals. Polar Ignite was used to control HR during training.

Primary objective

The main objective of the study was to observe a reduction of office (OBP) and/or 24-h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM), and/or a reduction of number or dosage of antihypertensive medication.

Main results

OBP values decreased significantly in the football group from 142.6/87.9 to 130.8/81.8 mmHg (P < 0.001), whereas in the control group the values increased slightly (NS).

Also, ABPM values decreased significantly in the football group, while a slight increase was found in the control group.

At the end of the study, the mean values in the football group of both OPB (P < 0.001) and ABPM (systolic P < 0.001, diastolic P = 0.017) were significantly lower than in the control group. Significantly, more people in the football group were able to reduce antihypertensive patients than in the control group (16 compared to 6), while more participants in the control group intensified antihypertensive therapy (14 compared to 3 in the football group) (P < 0.001).

Among the secondary endpoints, there was a weight loss of 3 kg in the football group and an increase of 1.7 kg in the control group (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Offering modified ‘healthy’ football-training to middle-aged hypertensive patients can lead to better BP control and a reduction of antihypertensive medication. Therefore, the offer of ‘health football’ should be established and supported by clubs, insurances and authorities.

Reference:
Schrader B et al. Football beats hypertension: results of the 3F (Fit&Fun with Football) study.J Hypertens. 2021 Nov 1;3a9(11):2290-2296. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000002935

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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

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