Health effects of team sports in companies – University of Copenhagen

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13 November 2012

Health effects of team sports in companies

Exercise football is effective in improving health profile and fitness

Exercise football is effective in improving health profile and fitness

Studies show that employees with a high level of physical activity on the job have increased risk of cardiovascular illnesses and death. This is particularly true of employees with poor heart-lung function, since they will experience greater heart-lung strain than their colleagues with good heart-lung function carrying out the same work.

Newer studies from our laboratory show that recreational football is an effective training stimulus for both short-term and long-term improvement of several different cardiovascular variables, including maximum oxygen intake, heart structure and heart function, blood pressure and fat profile. The studies also showed that teams sports’ social element helped increase social capital and networks among female employees. As a result of this, a concurrent sociological study is being carried out on the same target groups that were involved in the previous study (See project "Implementation at work - motivation and maintenance").

It is well documented that recreational football participation 2-3 times a week for 60 minutes at a time offers significant improvements in health profiles and cardiovascular condition. But it is still unclear whether a smaller amount of team sports fitness, for example 1 x 40 min, 2 x 20 min, or 4 x 10 min per week, is enough to deliver the positive training effects.

The overall goal with this project is to investigate the feasibility, health effects and the relationship between the amount of training and the response to that training of team sports in companies. The project will look at how team sports can be integrated in companies, and to what extent team sports can increase the physical capacity and health profile of employees, reducing the amount of sick leave they take.

Study 1: The effects of small amounts of ball game training on the workplace.

Study 1A consists of an intervention study with female nurses (primarily 30-45 years of age). The women are divided into two different training groups and one control group. In Study 1B, the participants are male bus drivers (aged 30-60 years of age) with over five years’ experience. The drivers are divided into three different training groups; the groups vary as to length and variation of training. There is also one control group.

Study 2: Team sports as a preventative against cardiovascular illness among cleaning women.

The study involved cleaning women (30-60 years old) with more than three years’ professional cleaning experience. They are recruited for a short-term implementation study, where one group takes part in training sessions several times a week and another group attends lectures about a healthy lifestyle.