Football is proven to be medicine

This edition of the Fast Fact highlights the potential health benefits associated with playing football, highlighting an editorial review from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport.1. This is to coincide with World Health Day1.

More than fifteen years of research has demonstrated the positive effects of football training on health, with a broad-spectrum impact on the prevention, treatment or rehabilitation of many diseases. Most of this research has focused on small-sided football games played on smaller pitches. These games are generally more intense than traditional 11-a-side football and combine strength, endurance and aerobic high-intensity activity.

The results of these studies are comprehensive in the ability for football, as the world’s most popular sport, to be utilised to enhance the health and well-being of the general population. Football has been shown to be safe and beneficial for patients (both male and female, and of all ages) with a variety of health problems. There is data showing that football is effective for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteopenia, severe obesity and several different types of cancer. The application of football as medicine is currently being looked at for refugees and socially deprived groups, as well as patients with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, psoriasis, asthma and anxiety. “Walking football’ is another option to achieve health benefits in those patient groups unable to participate in running football.

Football has been demonstrated to increase fitness, motor skills, cognitive functioning and psycho-social well-being. The potential use of football in the prevention and treatment of non-musculoskeletal disease has gained huge traction and the evidence points towards health benefits that are applicable to our world-wide population.

To learn more about sports medicine and football for health complete the ‘Sports Medicine’ modules in the FIFA Diploma in Football Medicine.


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BangouraMark FulcherGreg MirtFariba FattahiHenry Muroki Recent comment authors
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Henry Muroki
Henry Muroki

Dear Professor Peter Krustrup,
I found this article to be a very interesting and useful approach in combating lifestyle diseases using joyful and social elements that comes with football.
My question is whether walking football can be prescribed to a patient recovering from a cerebral vascular accident (CVA) with stable dynamic balance but using tripod crutch as an assistive device for ambulation?

Thank you.


Moi University


I agree with the approach of Walking football for the group who cant run. it is a fun activity and there is a large interest in social players let alone professionals..

Greg Mirt

This is the most stupid title so far. The reason for health professionals to be here is to discuss injuries related to the sport. Sport especially at professiomal level is far from beneficial. Thought we went past that already.

Mark Fulcher

Hey Greg. Thanks for participating. Have you read the article…because I think that you are missing the point. I think that it is time for clinicians who are involved in football to look beyond just treating injuries. I am not sure that anyone thinks that professional sport is a healthy pursuit. This article highlights an increasing body of evidence that shows that football can be used to treat a range of non-communicable diseases. We know that society is becoming increasingly more sedentary and that this is creating a massive health burden. For example did you know that there is evidence… Read more »


Le sport en géné le football en particulier peut aider les cliniciens du sport à bien gérer les patients souffrant généralement de maladie MÉTABOLIQUES et de la reeinssertion des malades soffrant de pathologie NEURO PSYCHIATRIQUES.
Le foot ball peut être un bon équilibre dans la convalescence de certains patients souffrant de pathologies CARDIO RESPIRATOIRES et les SÉDENTAIRES avec un surpoids pratiquant un foot ball de loisir et non de compétition.
Dans la rééducation de certaines maladies on peut prescrire la pratique du sport.