European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 9, pp 2011–2024 | Cite as

Gender-dependent evaluation of football as medicine for prediabetes

  • Magni MohrEmail author
  • May-Britt Skoradal
  • Thomas Rostgaard Andersen
  • Peter Krustrup
Original Article



Training intensity and health effects of football were investigated gender specifically in individuals with prediabetes.


Participants with prediabetes (age 60 ± 6 years) were randomised into a football and dietary advice group (FD-men n = 13 and FD-women n = 14) or a dietary advice only group (D-men n = 12 and D-women n = 11). FD performed football training (twice/week for 16 weeks), while both groups received dietary advice. Body composition, bone variables, blood pressure, blood lipid profile and peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) were determined pre- and post-intervention.


Mean heart rate during football training was 79 ± 2 and 80 ± 3% HRmax for FD-men and FD-women, respectively, with peak heart rate values of 96 ± 1 and 97 ± 2% HRmax, with no gender differences. VO2peak increased more (P < 0.05) in FD-men and FD-women than in D-men and D-women. However, relative delta change in VO2peak was 21 ± 14% in FD-women, which was greater (P < 0.05) than in FD-men (11 ± 12%). Reduction in SBP and DBP, respectively, was similar in FD-men (− 10.8 ± 13.0 and − 7.3 ± 11.8 mmHg) and FD-women (− 11.3 ± 11.0 and − 7.1 ± 6.2 mmHg), with within-gender differences for men. Total plasma cholesterol and LDL cholesterol decreased (P < 0.05) by − 0.7 ± 1.1 and − 0.5 ± 0.9 mmol L−1, respectively, in FD-women and − 0.2 ± 0.4 and − 0.2 ± 0.3 mmol L−1 in FD-men, with no significant gender differences (P = 0.08). Body fat content was lowered (P < 0.05) by 3 and 4%-points in FD-men and FD-women, respectively.


Gender-mixed football training combined with dietary advice causes broad-spectrum health effects for men and women with prediabetes, with minor gender-specific differences. Thus, the intensity and training-induced effects of football training are also high for elderly women with prediabetes.


Soccer VO2peak Fat percentage Blood pressure Cholesterol Cardiometabolic fitness 



Analysis of variance


Bone turnover markers


Bone mineral content


Blood pressure


Confidence interval


C-reactive protein


C-terminal telopeptide


Bone mineral density


Diastolic blood pressure


Diet men


Diet women


Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry


Effect size


Football and diet men


Football and diet women


Heart rate


High-density lipoprotein


Impaired fasting glycaemia


Impaired glucose tolerance


Lean body mass


Low-density lipoprotein

L2, L3 and L4

Lumbar vertebrae


Mean arterial pressure


Oral Glucose Tolerance Test


Peak oxygen uptake


Procollagen type I N propeptide


Randomized Controlled Trial


Resting heart rate


Standard deviation


Systolic blood pressure


Total cholesterol




Type II diabetes mellitus


Maximal oxygen uptake





We would like to express our appreciation of the outstanding efforts and positive attitude of the participants. In addition, we are extremely grateful for the technical assistance provided by Sólfríð Skoradal, Jan Poulsen, Annika Gleðisheygg, Hjalti Gleðisheygg, Charlotta Nielsen, Brandur Jacobsen, Johild Dulavík, Hildigunn Steinholm, Ivy Hansen, Gunnrið Jóannesarson, Ann Østerø, Nina Djurhuus, Ebba Andreassen, Maud av Fløtum, Súsanna Olsen, Synøva Hansen, Ronnie Midjord, Noomi Holm, Virgar Hvidbro, Guðrið Andorsdóttir, and Jens Jung Nielsen. We would also like to thank Prof. Pál Weihe, Prof. Jann Mortensen, PhD-student Poula Patursson, and MD Jens Andreassen for their invaluable support. The study was supported by a grant from the Faroese Research Council (Sjúkrakassagrunnurin), as well as by the Faroese Football Association (Fótbóltssamband Føroya; FSF) and the Faroese Diabetes Organisation (Diabetesfelag Føroya).

Author contributions

MM and PK conceived and designed the research project. MM, MS, TR and PK conducted the experiments. MM, MS and TR analyzed the data. MM and PK wrote the manuscript with inputs from MS and TR. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, SDU Sport and Health Sciences Cluster (SHSC), Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  2. 2.Centre of Health Science, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of the Faroe IslandsTórshavnFaroe Islands
  3. 3.Centre for Health and PerformanceUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  4. 4.Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK
  5. 5.Department of Sports ScienceShanghai University of SportShanghaiChina

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