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Original article| Volume 93, ISSUE 10, P1375-1396, October 2018

Cardiometabolic Risk Reduction Through Recreational Group Sport Interventions in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis



      To estimate the pooled effects of community-based, recreational-level group sports on cardiometabolic risk factors and fitness parameters among adults.

      Participants and Methods

      We systematically searched PubMed, EMBASE, PsychINFO, CINAHL, and Web of Science electronic databases for English-language articles reporting the effectiveness of recreational-level group sports published between January 1, 1965, and January 17, 2017. We extracted baseline and end of intervention means for cardiometabolic and fitness parameters. Random- or fixed-effects meta-analyses were used to obtain pooled before and after change in outcome means within intervention participants and between groups.


      From 2491 screened titles, 23 publications were included (902 participants; mean ± SD age, 46.6±11.7 years), comprising 21 soccer and 2 rugby interventions. Intervention participants achieved larger improvements (mean [95% CI]) compared with control subjects in weight (−1.44 kg [−1.79 to −1.08 kg]), body mass index (−0.88 kg/m2 [−1.73 to −0.03 kg/m2]), waist circumference (−0.77 cm [−1.21 to −0.33 cm]), body fat (−1.8% [−3.12% to −0.49%]), total cholesterol level (−0.33 mmol/L [−0.53 to −0.13 mmol/L]), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level (−0.35 mmol/L [−0.54 to −0.15 mmol/L]), systolic blood pressure (−5.71 mm Hg [−7.98 to −3.44 mm Hg]), diastolic blood pressure (−3.36 mm Hg [−4.93 to −1.78 mm Hg]), maximum oxygen consumption (3.93 mL/min per kg [2.96-4.91 mL/min]), and resting heart rate (−5.51 beats/min [−7.37 to −3.66 beats/min]). Most studies (16) were classified as high quality, and we found no evidence of publication bias.


      We found significant cardiometabolic and fitness improvements following group sport participation, primarily recreational soccer. These findings suggest that group sport interventions are promising strategies for reducing cardiometabolic risk in adults.

      Abbreviations and Acronyms:

      BMI (body mass index), CVD (cardiovascular disease), DBP (diastolic blood pressure), FBG (fasting blood glucose), HbA1c (hemoglobin A1c), HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), HIIT (high-intensity interval training), HOMA-IR (homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance), LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), NCD (noncommunicable chronic disease), PA (physical activity), RHR (resting heart rate), SBP (systolic blood pressure), TG (triglycerides), V˙O2max (maximum oxygen consumption)
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      • Cardiovascular Benefits of Group Sport Interventions: Importance of Improved Fitness in Risk Reduction
        Mayo Clinic ProceedingsVol. 93Issue 10
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          Available evidence suggests the implementation of recreational group sports as an additional strategy in the prevention of cardiovascular disease events, with potential for broad public health impact.1-3 A previous review and meta-analysis evaluating the health benefits of specific sport disciplines suggested that both running and soccer can improve cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and cardiovascular function.1 The authors concluded that there is some conditional research evidence on benefits of running for cardiometabolic fitness parameters, body composition, and postural balance, and group sports such as soccer improve cardiometabolic fitness, muscular performance, balance, and cardiac function; however, there is less evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on health benefits of other sport disciplines.
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