19 May 2015

Promoting the health benefits of football


Football’s impact on health and the Danish exercise concept of Football Fitness are key points on the agenda when the Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health at the University of Copenhagen hosts the World Congress on Science & Football from 20 May to 23 May.

Football reduces blood pressure to the same extent as blood pressure medicine, while simultaneously increasing muscle mass and strengthening bones. 12 weeks of football training increase maximal oxygen uptake  10-15 % and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by up to 50 %. These effects are part of a message that Danish researchers wish to highlight on an international congress.

Research has shown that small-sided football training, called Football Fitness, is an intense, versatile, effective, fun and social training type. Since 2011, thousands of untrained women have joined the Danish Football Clubs to play Football Fitness, and a recent introduction of Football Fitness on the Faroe Islands has increased the number of registered women players by 175%. Photo: Mia Kjærgaard.

- Our research shows that the new Danish exercise concept, Football Fitness, is an effective way to prevent and treat lifestyle diseases of inactive adults, and we are ready to participate in a global promotion of the concept, explains Peter Krustrup, professor in Team Sport and Health at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports.

The University of Copenhagen is the organizer of the WCSF2015 congress, where more than 500 researchers, trainers and sports leaders from all over the world meet in DGI-byen in Copenhagen to discuss the latest research within football, rugby and American, Gaelic and Australian football.

 - We are proud that the University of Copenhagen, as host of the world football congress, is a leader within football research. We are also delighted to help communicate very useful knowledge, so that this research can benefit as many as possible both in Denmark and abroad, says Lykke Friis, Prorector of the University of Copenhagen.

Health and learning effects on schoolchildren
Researchers from Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health will use the congress as a platform for highlighting football research on training, testing, match performance, injuries, fan culture as well as football and health, a new theme at this year’s congress.

Peter Krustrup, professor of team sport and health at the University of Copenhagen, has shown that small-sided football is an effective training type for school children: involvement, heart rates and cardiovascular training effects are high for boys and girls independently of body composition, fitness status and skill level. Photo: Bo Kousgaard.

- Exercise significantly boosts the health of children, their knowledge of health and their learning ability, and at the opening session of the congress we will join national and international sports and health organizations to look at how to best utilize this potential, says Jens Bangsbo, professor and head of Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health.

Among other things, FIFA will outline how Denmark is to play a key role in the development of FIFA’s global health project in schools, ”FIFA 11 for Health”.

At the opening session there will be presentations on football and health by Jesper Møller, President of the Danish FA (DBU), and Jiri Dvorak, head of FIFA’s research unit F-MARC, as well as presentations by researchers Peter Krustrup and Laila Ottesen. In a subsequent panel discussion, sports and health politicians from DIF, DBU, DGI, DFIF, ISCA and WHO will present their visions of the future endeavours in football and health.

The panel members will be available to the press afterwards.