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Book Release: Football As Medicine – Prescribing Football For Global Health Promotion

What are the benefits, challenges and impacts of sport on health? “Football as Medicine” is the first book to focus on football (soccer) in the context of health, from individual, public and population-level perspectives.

The new book “Football as Medicine - Prescribing Football for Global Health Promotion” collates 15 years of research when describing the effects of football training on cardiovascular, metabolic and musculoskeletal fitness, and providing up-to-date knowledge of the impact of recreational football for target populations like children, type 2 diabetes patients, cancer patients, people with mental health conditions, the socially deprived and older people.

The book discusses the significance of football for public health and assesses the efficacy of football interventions by clubs and community sport development programs and is edited by professor in Sport and Health Peter Krustrup, University of Southern Denmark and Daniel Parnell, Senior Lecturer in Sport Business from University of Liverpool, UK.

Potential for global health promotion

The book is based on extensive research into the health effects of football.

“To make a long story short: Our research shows that football is broad-spectrum medicine, a polypill against lifestyle diseases. The reason for that is that football is an effective and intense hybrid training type, combining strength training, endurance training and HIIT training, with broad-spectrum health effects on heart function, blood pressure, fat mass, cholesterol, muscle strength, postural balance, bone mineralization”, professor Peter Krustrup explains.

“Football is best practice exercise, but more than that: Football is a fun, social and popular sporting activity, with great potential for creating adherence to an active lifestyle and with great potential for global health promotion”, Peter Krustrup stipulates.

Now is the time for action

"We are delighted to see the Football as Medicine book through to completion and now publication. The list of contributors is incredible and the knowledge and learning available within the book is testament to their respective and cumulative decades of work undertaken on this truly unique agenda,” Dan Parnell says.

Dr Parnell adds: “This book signals a landmark moment and arguably a line in the sand with respect to what we know works for the Football as Medicine agenda. We now need to make sure policy makers, managers and practitioners are equipped with the know-how to take action. Whether this is delivering effective football based public health interventions, or building the case to protect existing football playing fields. Ultimately, now is the time for action and this book gives those in power the understanding and information to make evidence-based decisions to expand and extend the potential impact of football delivering health related outcomes."

In the book foreword, Professors Jiri Dvorak, Karim Khan and Roald Bahr also argue:

“We fully support the vision of Peter Krustrup and the global breadth of scholars who contribute to the collective effort to harness the power of football to make our world a better one. At first, reading these words may sound like hyperbole – over the top – but they withstand scrutiny as they are accurate. The scientists and clinicians offer evidence which cannot be ignored! Because of the world’s appetite for football, the beautiful game can be a force for health and wellbeing.”

Football is Medicine – it is time for pupils, people and patients to play

“In collaboration with the Danish FA (DBU) and the Danish Sports Confederation (DIF) we have developed a series of strong evidence-based football concepts using small-sided football training sessions for school children, for untrained adults and for patients that are suitable for large-scale implementation”, Peter Krustrup continues.

When football is played in accordance with those evidence-based concepts entitled “FIT FIRST”, “11 for Health” (school children), Football Fitness (untrained adults and elderly), and football for patients, e.g., Football for the Heart, FC Prostate, Football Fitness ABC (After Breast Cancer) and Football for Socially Deprived, it is safe and feasible for everybody with few injury-related side-effects, also for elderly and patients with hypertension, type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer.

With its multi-disciplinary approach, the book is a valuable resource for students, researchers and practitioners working in physical activity and health, public health, health promotion and medicine, as well as football and sport business management, sport and exercise science, and the sociology of sport.

Find the book at Routledge here.


Peter Krustrup
Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics
University of Southern Denmark
T: +45 2116 1530

Daniel Parnell
University of Liverpool, UK.
T: 07538500348

FACTS about the book

  • The book encapsulates 15 years of research into the health effects of football (soccer).     
  • It focusses on football in the context of health, from individual, public and population-level perspectives.
  • The book reveals results from meta-analyses showing that football training for two times 60 minutes per week over 12-26 wks lowers blood pressure by 11/7 mmHg for 30-75-year-old participants with mild-to-moderate hypertension.
  • A total of 72 authors representing 18 countries around the globe has contributed to the book.
  • The book is edited by professor Peter Krustrup, University of Southern Denmark and professor Daniel Parnell from University of Liverpool, UK.
    Publisher: Routledge.         
Editing was completed: 12.12.2019