FRIDAY, June 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Think soccer is only
for young elite athletes playing in the World Cup?
Not so: A new Danish study finds that the game Europeans call
"football" can bring serious health benefits to men in their 60s
"The results provide strong evidence that football is an
intense, versatile and effective form of training, including for
untrained elderly men," study leader Peter Krustrup, of the
Copenhagen Center for Team Sport and Health at the University of
Copenhagen, said in a center news release.
The new research included 27 inactive men, ages 63-75, who were
assigned to do either soccer training, strength training or no
training at all. The two training groups did two one-hour workouts
each week for a year.
All of the participants underwent physical tests at the start of
the study and again after four and 12 months.
The men in the soccer training group showed significant
improvements in heart function, muscle strength and bone
mineralization, Krustrup's team reported.
The results of the study were published online recently in the
Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.
Krustrup said that after the soccer training and play, the
formerly inactive men "improved their maximum oxygen uptake by 15
percent and their performance during interval exercise by as much
as 50 percent by playing football for one hour, two times per week,
over four months. Moreover, muscle function was improved by 30
percent and bone mineralization in the [neck of the thigh bone]
increased by 2 percent."
The take-home message: "It is definitely never too late to start
playing football," Krustrup said. He believes that soccer "boosts
physical capacity and heart health, and minimizes the risk of falls
and fractures in elderly men who have never played [the game]
before or have not played for decades."
Those benefits enhance life
offthe field, too. "The remarkable improvements in aerobic
fitness and muscle strength make it easier for the players to live
an active life and overcome the physical challenges of everyday
life such as climbing stairs, shopping, cycling and gardening. This
benefits not only the players themselves, but also their families
and friends," Krustrup noted.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
seniors and exercise.