An hour of football training session twice a week, combined with dietary guidance can improve bone health in older adults with prediabetes, claim researchers. Individuals with prediabetes and Type-2 diabetes have a higher prevalence of osteopenia — a condition that occurs when the body does not make new bone as quickly as it reabsorbs old bone — and bone fractures.

The findings, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, showed that playing football derived significant positive effects in the legs and clinically important femoral sites. “Our results show that football and dietary guidance are indeed an effective cocktail for improving bone health,” said Magni Mohr, Associate Professor at the University of Southern Denmark.

“Football is a multipurpose sport that combines strength, endurance and high-intensity interval training, and this makes it a good tool for the prevention and treatment of Type-2 diabetes and other lifestyle diseases,” added Peter Krustrup, Professor at the varsity.

For the study, a small group of 55 to 70 year olds underwent a 16 week intervention comprising dietary guidance and twice weekly football training sessions lasting 30 to 60 minutes. Normally, one cannot think of football as something for 70-year-olds with low physical capacity or poor bone health.

However, the researchers found that a modified version of football, the so-called Football Fitness concept, which included a thorough warm-up, ball drills in pairs and games on small pitches, was feasible and effective for the middle-aged and elderly patients.

After 16 weeks of training, changes in favour of football training were observed for bone mineral content of the femoral neck (3.2%) and femoral shaft (2.5%) as well as for bone mineral content (32 g). The researchers emphasised that football is effective osteogenic training particularly for the elderly.

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