Group, recreational sports are effective for reducing chronic disease risk factors in adults

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Aug. 21, 2018

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Melva Robertson
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melva.robertson@emory.edu

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Meta-analysis of multiple studies indicated that group sport participation was associated with broad-reaching and clinically important reductions in body weight, blood pressure and lipids and improvements in body composition and aerobic fitness.

Group, recreational sports are effective strategies for reducing risks for non-communicable chronic diseases (NCD) and other health issues that stem from sedentary lifestyles according to a recent study by researchers at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.

According to lead researcher Felipe Lobelo, MD PhD, associate professor at the Rollins School of Public Health, sports-based approaches serve as an alternative to traditional exercise interventions through their unique and varied physiologic features as well as positive, social aspects that increase ongoing participation.

“We found that recreational group sports are an effective way to increase physical activity among adults who may otherwise remain inactive and that have obesity, high lipids or hypertension explains Lobelo. “Sports incorporate a variety of training mechanisms such as sprinting, bone-loading, resistance and aerobic endurance activity that help improve musculoskeletal and metabolic fitness and can be used to help prevent or manage NCDs”  ”

Lobelo and team conducted a meta-analysis from 23 publications reporting the effectiveness of recreational-level group sports that included soccer and rugby interventions. Samples consisted of 902 study participants,

Complete findings are available in the October 2018 edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Results indicated that group sport participation was associated with broad-reaching and clinically important reductions in body weight, blood pressure and lipids and improvements in body composition and aerobic fitness. Findings applied to both men and women, young and older adults, as well as populations with diagnosed diabetes, obesity and hypertension.

“The results of this study can have important clinical and population health implications” says Lobelo. “Patients often ask, what’s the best exercise? I often recommend activities that they enjoy and can stay motivated to do consistently. For some of us, playing group sports, in a recreational and safe way, can be an appealing way to remain active while the power of the group and social dynamics add extrinsic motivational value. About 8 in 10 adults in our country fail to meet the recommended physical activity federal guidelines. Broader implementation of primary and secondary prevention programs using group sports as a vehicle to deliver lifestyle change can help reduce the growing burden of physical inactivity and NCDs.

Related Video:
"Meta-analysis of Cardiometabolic Risk Reduction Using Group Sports" (Mayo Proceedings)