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How Soccer Safeguards Your Heart

Date:09-06-2013 06:50:25 read:3
Category:Life Style-->Entertainment

Your heart loves soccer.

Score! Soccer could kickstart major heart health improvements, finds new Danish research.

Systolic and diastolic blood pressure scores dropped between 6 and 9 percent among diabetic men who were assigned to play soccer twice a week for six months when compared to a group who did nothing. (To give you an idea, that’s enough of a drop to lower your risk for a deadly stroke or heart-related event by up to 50 percent, according to an Oxford University study.) Two markers of left ventricle function—a heart chamber that can falter early among diabetes sufferers—also improved by up to 29 percent in the soccer players, according to the study. And that’s not all: Researchers speculate that even healthy guys would see heart benefits from the world’s greatest sport.

What’s so great about it? “The nature of the game—accelerations, decelerations, jumps, sideways sprints, and backwards running—is a powerful stimulus to the cardiovascular system,” explains study coauthor Jacob Friis Schmidt, M.D. Over time, these movements increase the volume of blood absorbed by the capillaries in your muscles, easing blood flow and lowering blood pressure, Schmidt says.

The good news: The study mimicked a pickup game, so you don’t have to go pro to reap the benefits. Grab a few buddies and play for an hour twice a week, Schmidt suggests. It doesn’t matter whether you play 2-on-2 or 11-on-11—research shows the heart benefits are similar, and would likely extend to sports like basketball. Don’t know anyone who plays? Try this interval workout, which combines the high-intensity running activities you’d experience on a soccer field.

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