High blood pressure and type two diabetes are generally treated with doctor visits and medicine, but according to a study by the University of Copenhagen, football can serve as a medical alternative.
The study included two groups of people between 30 and 55 years old.
The first followed traditional treatment – regular checkups with the doctor, who took measurements and gave them advice on nutrition and exercise habits – while the other took a much simpler approach: playing football twice a week.
The study lasted six months, during which time doctors regularly measured their blood pressure, fitness rating and percentage of body fat, according to Science Nordic.
Significant results across the board
“We were impressed that blood pressure decreased so significantly in both groups," University of Copenhagen professor Jens Bangsbo told Science Nordic.
"In three out of four patients suffering from high blood pressure, the blood pressure was normalised, and some even went on to drop their medicine.”
Though both groups had positive results, the group that just played football had a drop in blood pressure twice as large as that of the group who followed traditional treatment.
Football makes you younger
In addition, the football group saw a greater drop in body fat percentage, a higher fitness rating and improved heart function.
But perhaps more significant were the results for type two diabetes patients within the group, whose hearts effectively became ten years younger as a result of just playing one hour of football a week, claims Bangsbo.
A new partnership
Given the convincing results of the study, the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Team Sport and Health has reached out to the Danish Football Association, the Danish Heart Foundation and the Danish Diabetes Assocation, reports Science Nordic.
They plan to make a program that allows patients being treated for diabetes and high blood pressure to play football at their local clubs.