Every year as Thanksgiving gets closer, you’ve probably seen the depressing reports: “Most people gain between 5 and 10 pounds of body fat in the six weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.” I’m not sure if this worries you or not, but a lot of people are terrified about getting fatter in the next two months. They anticipate the workouts falling by the wayside and the holiday food calling out to them irresistibly, defeating even the strongest willpower. There’s good news and bad news about this.
Good news: According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the average amount gained is much more modest – just over a pound.
Bad news: A study by the National Institutes of Health found that this seasonal weight gain – even just a pound – is the kind of weight gain that most people don’t lose when the holidays are over; it simply adds to the weight creep that sneaks up on you as you get older.
A just published research experiment on inactive men with high blood pressure shows that just 3 months of soccer practise twice a week causes a significant fall in blood pressure, resting pulse rate, and percentage of body fat, and is more effective than the doctor’s usual advice on healthy diet and exercise. Other parallel experiments on both women and men further demonstrates that a regular game of soccer affects numerous cardiovascular risk factors such as maximal oxygen uptake, heart function, elasticity of the vascular system, blood pressure, cholesterol and fat mass far more than e.g. strength training and just as much if not more than running.
Each of the experiments was controlled randomized studies where the soccer groups were compared to other exercise groups and inactive controls. The soccer experiments are part of a large-scale research project on soccer and health carried out at the University of Copenhagen, four Danish University Hospitals, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Schulthess Clinic in Zurich.
Project Leader and Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen Peter Krustrup recaps the results: “Our research shows that soccer is a versatile and intense form of exercise that provides a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors in a large group of untrained adult men and women,” and continues: “Based on the results, soccer can be recommended as part of the treatment for high blood pressure and as broad-spectred prevention of cardiovascular diseases.”