Cardiovascular function is better in veteran football players than age-matched untrained elderly healthy men

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2015 Feb;25(1):61-9. doi: 10.1111/sms.12153. Epub 2013 Dec 4.


The aim of the study was to determine whether lifelong football training may improve cardiovascular function, physical fitness, and body composition. Our subjects were 17 male veteran football players (VPG; 68.1 ± 2.1 years) and 26 healthy age-matched untrained men who served as a control group (CG; 68.2 ± 3.2 years). Examinations included measurements of cardiac function, microvascular endothelial function [reactive hyperemic index (RHI)], maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max), and body composition. In VPG, left ventricular (LV) end-diastolic volume was 20% larger (P < 0.01) and LV ejection fraction was higher (P < 0.001). Tissue Doppler imaging revealed an augmented LV longitudinal displacement, i.e., LV shortening of 21% (P < 0.001) and longitudinal 2D strain was 12% higher (P < 0.05), in VPG. In VPG, resting heart rate was lower (6 bpm, P < 0.05), and VO2max was higher (18%, P < 0.05). In addition, RHI was 21% higher (P < 0.05) in VPG. VPG also had lower body mass index (P < 0.05), body fat percentage, total body fat mass, android fat percentage, and gynoid fat percentage (all P < 0.01). Lifelong participation in football training is associated with better LV systolic function, physical fitness, microvascular function, and a healthier body composition. Overall, VPG have better cardiovascular function compared with CG, which may reduce their cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Keywords: echocardiography; endurance training; peripheral arterial tonometry; soccer; veteran athletes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Aged
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular System*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Echocardiography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Soccer / physiology*
  • Vasodilation / physiology*
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology*