Recreational football is medicine against non-communicable diseases: a systematic review

Hugo Sarmento, Filipe Manuel Clemente, Adilson Marques, Zoran Milanovic, Liam Harper, Antonio Figueiredo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this research was to conduct a systematic review of published articles related to the effect of recreational football on non-communicable diseases.

A systematic review of Web of Science, SPORTdiscus, MEDLINE and PubMed databases was performed according PRISMA guidelines. Only empirical studies were included. There were no restrictions on the types of study design eligible for inclusion. The primary outcome measures result from the potential effects of recreational football on non-communicable diseases (e.g., blood pressure, bone density, LDL-Cholesterol, fat mass, etc.).

A total of 44 articles met the inclusion criteria and were included. Recreational football is shown to: (1) decrease blood pressure and resting heart rate, improve cardiac structure and functioning, as well as increase maximal oxygen uptake in both sexes; (2) reduce cholesterol and triglycerides levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and have a positive impact on glycaemic control; (3) improve bone mineralization, increase both bone mineral density and content, as well as acting as a stimulus for osteogenesis; (4) be clearly beneficial for bone health, whilst slightly beneficial for body composition, muscle strength and maximal oxygen uptake in adults with prostate cancer.

The present systematic review demonstrated the benefits of recreational football practice on non-communicable diseases related to cardiovascular and bone health, body composition, type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer. The effectiveness of recreational football on the aforementioned diseases may be related to age and gender; however, further research is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-637
Number of pages20
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number4
Early online date13 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


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