Football Hypertension Intervention

An Evidence-Based Practice


This intervention is a high-intensity, intermittent exercise regimen for people with mild hypertension but who are habitually active. Participants start each training session with a 10-minute warm-up and continue with 50 minutes of games with other participants at above 65% maximum heart rate. Training sessions are held at least twice per week.

Goal / Mission

The program aims to prevent the onset of severe hypertension in habitually active mildly hypertensive adults with a 12-week intermittent football-based or endurance running training.

Results / Accomplishments

A randomized control trial was undertaken to investigate the effects of a 12-week football-based exercise program on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in habitually active hypertensive individuals. Of particular interest was also to compare the decreases in blood pressure of such an intervention with those produced by endurance training. This study enrolled 47 20-45 year-old men with mild hypertension. These 47 participants were randomly assigned to one of the following groups: football (F), running (R), or control (C).

Groups F and R were asked to train three times a week—each session lasting 1h—for 12 weeks. Group F trained on a small-sided football field while group R ran at 80% maximal heart rate. Participants in group C were asked to continue a sedentary lifestyle. In general, participants in all three groups were similar in terms of age, BMI before intervention, duration of each session, and frequency of training.

Participants in all three groups experienced reductions in systolic (F: -7.5%, p<0.001; R: -5.9%, p<0.001; C: -6.0%, p<0.001) and diastolic (F: -10.3%, p<0.001; R: -6.9%, p<0.001; C: -4.7%, p<0.01) blood pressure. On average (mean ± SD), participants in group F (-9 ± 5 mm Hg) experienced greater reduction in diastolic blood pressure than did participants in group C (-4 ± 6 mm Hg). The difference in diastolic but not systolic blood pressure among the three groups was statistically significant (p<0.05).

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Dr. C Knoepfli-Lenzin
Institute of Human Movement Sciences, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Health / Heart Disease & Stroke
Date of publication
For more details
Target Audience
Submitted By
Jennifer Le, Becky Lee, Zeyu (Taku) Xu - UC Berkeley School of Public Health