(HealthDay)—Playing soccer can help reduce high blood pressure in adults, according to a small study.
British researchers looked at 22 men, aged 31 to 54, with mild to moderate hypertension who began playing two one-hour sessions of recreational soccer a week.
After six months, the participants showed significant drops in blood pressure, and three-quarters achieved normal readings. The men also had improved lung function, lower resting heart rates and less body fat.
The study appears in the March issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
"The results of this study show that being physically active through soccer is not only a fun group activity, but can also promote health. Aerobic fitness achieved through soccer training can help improve several aspects of daily life," primary investigator Peter Krustrup, of the University of Exeter in England, said in a journal news release.
He added that further research is needed to determine if the study findings apply to the general public.
Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to stroke and kidney failure.
Previous research has shown that physical activity can help prevent and treat more than 40 chronic diseases. Adults should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, while children should get an hour a day, according to U.S. government guidelines.
The American Heart Association has more about prevention and treatment of high blood pressure.