The present study examined the cardiac effects of football training and running for inactive pre-menopausal women by standard echocardiography and tissue Doppler imaging. Thirty-seven subjects were randomized to two training groups (football: FG; n=19; running; RG; n=18) training 1 h with equal average heart rates twice a week for 16 weeks and compared with a matched inactive control group (CG; n=10). During the training period, left ventricular end-diastolic volume increased by 13% in FG and 11% in RG (P<0.05). Left ventricular posterior wall thickness increased in FG from 8.5+/-1.4 to 9.0+/-1.3 mm (P<0.05). Right ventricle diameter increased by 12% in FG and 10% in RG (P<0.05). Tissue Doppler imaging demonstrated increased left ventricular systolic and diastolic performances in both training groups. Peak systolic velocity increased by 26% in FG and 17% in RG (P<0.05) and left ventricular longitudinal displacement increased in both groups by 13% (P<0.05). Isovolumetric relaxation time decreased significantly more in FG than in RG (26% vs 14%, respectively P<0.05). In conclusion, 16 weeks of football and running exercise training induced significant changes of cardiac dimensions and had favorable effects on both left ventricular systolic and diastolic function. These training-induced cardiac adaptations appeared to be more consistent after football training compared with running.