Oh FIFA, what have you done to me? USA vs. Belgium, Netherlands vs. Mexico—it seems I just can’t get enough of 2014 World Cup Brazil. Watching those men run up and down the soccer pitch had me wondering, is this just a young person’s sport?
A recent Danish study shows that its never too late to start playing what the rest of the world calls football. Researchers from the Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health at the University of Copenhagen recruited 27 inactive men, ages 63 to 70, and had them take part in either football training, strength training, or no training at all. After four months of twice-weekly one-hour workouts, tests showed quite a difference between groups regarding aerobic fitness and muscle strength.
For those who practiced and played soccer, maximum oxygen uptake increased by 15 percent, muscle function was improved by 30 percent and bone mineralization in the Femoral neck (of the thigh bone) increased by 2 percent.
Image courtesy of tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Our study shows that intense training such as football can change the lives of elderly men,” said study leader Professor Peter Krustrup, in a press release.
And 70 is the new 30 if you’ve been playing soccer all your life. Krustrup added, “Our previous studies have shown that 70-year-old men with lifelong participation in football possess a postural balance and rapid muscle force that is comparable to that of 30-year-old untrained men.”
The benefits of soccer enhance life off the field as well. Playing soccer has been shown to reduce high blood pressure in the elderly and also reduces the risk of falls and bone fractures.
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