This supplement contains 16 original articles describing how football conducted as small sided games affects fitness and health of untrained individuals across the lifespan. The intermittent nature of football and high exercise intensity result in a broad range of effects. The heart changes its structure and improves its function. Blood pressure is markedly reduced with the mean arterial blood pressure being lowered by ~10 mmHg for hypertensive men and women training 2-3 times/week for 12-26 weeks. Triglycerides and cholesterol are lowered and body fat declines, especially in middle-aged men and women with type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, muscle mass and bone mineral density increases in a number of participant groups, including 65-75-year-old men. The functional capacity is elevated with increases in VO₂ max of 10-15%, and 50-100% improvements in the capacity to perform intermittent work within 16 weeks. These effects apply irrespective of whether the participants are young, overweight, elderly or suffering from a disease. The studies clearly show that the participants enjoy playing football and form special relationships with their team mates. Thus, football is a healthy activity, providing a unique opportunity to increase recruitment and adherence to physical activity in a hitherto underserved population, and to treat and rehabilitate patients with hypertension, type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer.
Keywords: Heart function; VO2max; blood pressure; body composition; functional capacity; lipid profile.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.