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Health Kick for Men

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Playing Soccer May Lower BMI 

Lace up your cleats and take it to the field! A study out of the University of Copenhagen finds soccer may be more than just a game when it comes to better health. 

Researchers divided 26 older men (average age 68 years) into three groups: One group played soccer for an hour one or two times per week, another group lifted weights, and the third was a control group and did not exercise. After 52 weeks, the group that played soccer saw a small drop in BMI, while the weight-lifting group saw no change and the control group actually gained weight. 

Researchers noted benefits on the cellular level too. The soccer group saw a 59% increase in the expression of SOD-2, a gene that helps fight oxidative stress and inflammation, and a 30% increase in GLUT-4, a transporter that takes sugar out of the blood and into cells for energy (a good effect for diabetes prevention). 

The benefits of soccer don’t stop there. Previous studies by the same group of researchers demonstrated that four months of twice-weekly one-hour training sessions improved maximum oxygen uptake by 15% and muscle function by 30%. Soccer training also showed promise as a guard against osteoporosis, increasing seniors’ retention of minerals (calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, etc.) in their bones. 

You don’t need to play like David Beckham to add some soccer to your fitness routine. Round up some friends, find a field, and let the game begin! If you’re more serious about the sport, find a local league through a health club or community center.

Published June 1, 2016

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