Get access

Long-term musculoskeletal and cardiac health effects of recreational football and running for premenopausal women


Corresponding author: Peter Krustrup, Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences, Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, University of Copenhagen, The August Krogh Building, Universitetsparken 13, Copenhagen 2100-Ø, Denmark. Tel: +45 35 32 16 24, Fax: +45 35 32 16 00, E-mail:


We examined long-term musculoskeletal and cardiac adaptations elicited by recreational football (FG, n=9) and running (RG, n=10) in untrained premenopausal women in comparison with a control group (CG, n=9). Training was performed for 16 months (∼2 weekly 1-h sessions). For FG, right and left ventricular end-diastolic diameters were increased by 24% and 5% (P<0.05), respectively, after 16 months. Right ventricular systolic function measured by tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (TAPSE) increased (P<0.05) in FG after 4 months and further (P<0.05) after 16 months (15% and 32%, respectively). In RG and CG, cardiac structure, E/A and TAPSE remained unchanged. For FG, whole-body bone mineral density (BMD) was 2.3% and 1.3% higher (P<0.05) after 16 months, than after 4 and 0 months, respectively, with no changes for RG and CG. FG demonstrated substantial improvements (P<0.05) in fast (27% and 16%) and slow (16% and 17%) eccentric muscle strength and rapid force capacity (Imp30ms: 66% and 65%) after 16 months compared with 4 and 0 months, with RG improving Imp30ms by 64% and 46%. In conclusion, long-term recreational football improved muscle function, postural balance and BMD in adult women with a potential favorable influence on the risk of falls and fractures. Moreover, football training induced consistent cardiac adaptations, which may have implications for long-term cardiovascular health.