Despite Ireland's failure to reach this year's World Cup in Brazil, the tournament is still attracting a large TV audience. However, a new study has found that actually getting out and playing football may help lower blood pressure in women aged between 35 and 50.
According to the findings, women in this age group with mild high blood pressure who played recreational football over a 15-week period recorded a significant reduction in their blood pressure readings and their levels of body fat.
The women, none of whom had received training in football prior to this, played one hour sessions, three times a week, for 15 weeks.
"After 15 weeks of participation in recreational football, systolic and diastolic blood pressure had fallen by 12 and 6 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and the women had lost 2.3 kg (5lbs) of fat on average. The football training produced an impressive reduction in blood pressure that was more than twice as big as with swimming performed over the same period as the football," the researchers said.
The study also noted that the women enjoyed playing the game even if they had never played before.
"The players faithfully attended training, with an attendance rate of over 90%. In fact, through the project period they came to enjoy playing so much that they have now started up their own football club," the researchers noted.
They pointed out that previous studies they have undertaken have found that football training reduces blood pressure in women aged between 20 and 45 with normal blood pressure, ‘but this is the first study that has looked at the effects of recreational football in women with high blood pressure'.
"As well as the impressive effects on blood pressure and body composition, we also saw a drop in cholesterol and a big improvement in physical fitness as a result of the 15 weeks of football training. In fact, the women were able to run more than twice as far in an endurance test and their heart rate was 14 beats per minute lower when working at moderate intensity," the researchers said.
They concluded that recreational football ‘is an effective therapy for poor fitness and high blood pressure in 35‒50-year-old women'.
Details of these findings are published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.
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