The present study examined the effect of football (F, n=15) training on the health profile of habitually active 25-45-year-old men with mild hypertension and compared it with running (R, n=15) training and no additional activity (controls, C, n=17). The participants in F and R completed a 1-h training session 2.4 times/week for 12 weeks. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased in all groups but the decrease in diastolic blood pressure in F (-9 +/- 5 (+/- SD) mmHg) was higher than that in C (-4 +/- 6 mmHg). F was as effective as R in decreasing body mass (-1.6 +/- 1.8 vs-1.5 +/- 2.1 kg) and total fat mass (-2.0 +/- 1.5 vs -1.6 +/- 1.5 kg) and in increasing supine heart rate variability, whereas no changes were detected for C. Maximal stroke volume improved in F (+13.1%) as well as in R (+10.1%) compared with C (-4.9%). Total cholesterol decreased in F (5.8 +/- 1.2 to 5.5 +/- 0.9 mmol/L) but was not altered in R and C. We conclude that football training, consisting of high-intensity intermittent exercise, results in positive effects on blood pressure, body composition, stroke volume and supine heart rate variability, and elicits at least the same cardiovascular health benefits as continuous running exercise in habitually active men with mild hypertension.