Research conducted by Universities of Exeter and Copenhagen, and Gentofte University Hospital in Denmark, discovered that soccer may be an effective way to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke.
The study looked at the maximal oxygen uptake, body fat and hypertension levels of 33 males between 33 and 54 years old with moderately high blood pressure over the course of a six-month period. During the study, the men were divided into two groups: One participated in two hour-long soccer clinics each week, and another received treatment from a general practitioner who informed them of the merits of a healthy diet and exercise.
The results, which were published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, showed that the men who played soccer had twice the reduction in heart rate as their counterparts. The soccer group also had a 10 percent improvement in maximal oxygen uptake and exercise capacity, and their resting heart rate was reduced by eight beats per minute. They also had an average decrease in their body fat mass of 4.4 pounds.
The soccer group was also able to partake in moderately intense exercises without becoming physically taxed, and when they engaged in exercises like cycling, they had lower heart rates and burned more fat.
“Although our previous research has highlighted the many health benefits of playing football, this is the first evidence that football may contribute fundamentally to prevention of cardiovascular disease in hypertensive men.” said research author Peter Krustrup PhD.
Blood pressure facts
According to the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI), nearly one-third of U.S. adults has high blood pressure (HBP). While HBP can be detrimental to the heart, blood vessels and kidneys, patients may be unaware that they even have it for years.
The NHLI notes that blood pressure is measured in systolic and diastolic pressures with the unit millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Systolic is your blood pressure when your heart is beating and diastolic is the blood pressure when your heart is between beats. Your blood pressure shifts depending on your activity level: It is lower during periods of rest and higher during moments of excitement.
Blood pressure rates are categorized in stages. Normal blood pressure has a systolic rate that’s less than 120 mmHg and a diastolic rate less than 80 mmHg. The prehypertension stage has a systolic rate in between 120 mmHg and 139 mmHg, as well as a diastolic rate between 80 mmHg and 89 mmHg. Stage 1 hypertension has a systolic rate of 140 mmHg to 159 mmHg and a diastolic rate between 90 mmHg and 99 mmHg. Stage 2 hypertension, the most at-risk stage for a heart attack, has a systolic rate of 160 mmHg and higher and a diastolic rate of 100 mmHg and higher.
Blood pressure treatment
According to the Mayo Clinic, men who have a waist measurement that exceeds 40 inches are at risk of having high blood pressure, while women who have a waist measurement that is greater than 35 inches are also at risk. By losing ten pounds, individuals can reduce their blood pressure.
The source also recommends regularly exercising for 30 to 60 minutes each day, because it can decrease your blood pressure by anywhere from 4 to 9 mmHg. People may want to avoid leaving exercise to just the weekends, because the sporadic intense workouts can be detrimental to heart health.
The University of Maryland (UMD) notes that clinical studies have indicated that a diet rich with omega-3 fatty acids may lower one’s blood pressure. You can get omega-3s from chia seeds, flax seeds as well as an Omegakrill supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals.
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