For people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension), improving their fitness levels can really help them to manage their condition more effectively. Unfortunately, finding the right form of exercise can be somewhat of a challenge, until now! A recent study conducted at the Universities of Copenhagen and Exeter, as well as the Gentofte University Hospital in Denmark, found that soccer (or football in the rest of the world) was actually the best way for hypertension patients to improve their fitness level.
The research teams working on this hypertension clinical study found that soccer training seemed to help prevent the development of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged men with high blood pressure. The results of this study also suggested that playing soccer could be more effective than following the healthy lifestyle advice that is often recommended by GPs. In fact, after only three months of training, the blood pressure for three quarters of the men in the study had returned to a healthy range.
The Growing Effect of Hypertension
High blood pressure (hypertension) has become a serious issue among men in the United States, and it can significantly increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, or heart attack. Health care providers have often recommended physical exercise for their patients, because they know that it can help reduce unhealthy blood pressure levels. Up until now, a lack of solid evidence has led to some disagreement over which form of exercise would be most effective for hypertensive patients.
Preparing a New High Blood Pressure Study
For the clinical trial, the team enrolled 33 men from the ages of 33 to 54 who all had been diagnosed with mild to moderate hypertension. The study participants were randomly divided into two groups: the first group participated in two hour-long soccer practice sessions per week, while the other group underwent the standard healthy diet and physical activity regimen that was prescribed by most GPs. Controlled blood pressure measurements were taken from both of the groups in the study. Medical researchers recorded the effects on maximal oxygen uptake, exercise capacity, blood pressure, and body fat at a three month and six month interval.
The research team recorded a mean blood pressure reduction of 10 mmHg in the study participants who were playing soccer, while the control group only produced a mean reduction of 5 mmHg. The guys playing soccer also saw an improvement of 10 percent in their maximal exercise capacity and maximal oxygen uptake, while their body fat mass decreased by an average of 2 kilograms and resting heart rate was lowered by 8 beats per minute. Researchers found no significant changes in these health measures among the control group.
Participants could Push Themselves further following this Study
After the clinical trial was concluded, the medical researchers conducted a post-trial physical exertion test. They found that the participants who had taken part in soccer training could push themselves further than the guys from the control group. When taking part in exercises such as cycling for instance, these participants from the soccer group were able to retain significantly lower heart rates.
The lead researcher, Professor Peter Krustrup, was extremely pleased with the results from this latest high blood pressure clinical trial. It appears that playing soccer can provide a three for one boost for patients with hypertension: it improves their fitness, helps to burn excess fat, and it will help reduce high blood pressure. Following six months of soccer sessions, the research team recorded an incredible 13/8 mmHg in arterial blood pressure for these clinical trial participants.
Soccer Every Other Day can keep the Cardiologist at Bay
The professor went on to note that while previous studies have highlighted the multiple health benefits that can be derived from soccer, this one was the first to provide solid evidence that soccer could actually help to prevent the development of cardiovascular disease in men with hypertension.
The senior cardiologist from Gentofte University Hospital in Denmark, Peter Riis Hansen, was also quite pleased to see that the soccer training seemed to be able to lead to a considerable reduction in the risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, and death for these participants. However, this is only the first big step for these medical researchers. The teams now have a solid base for future hypertension clinical trials which will be focused on the possible effects that soccer has on the structure and function of the heart.