Document Type



BMJ Publishing Group


School of Medical and Health Sciences / Exercise Medicine Research Institute




Originally published as: Luo, H., Newton, R. U., Ma'Ayah, F., Galvão, D. A., & Taaffe, D. R. (2018). Recreational soccer as sport medicine for middle-aged and older adults: A systematic review. BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine, 4(1). Original article available here


Background Strategies to prevent or attenuate the age-related decline in physical and physiological function and reduce chronic disease risk factors are of clinical importance.

Objective To examine the health benefits of recreational soccer in middle-aged and older adults.

Design Systematic review in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.

Data sources All available records up until 9 June 2017 in PubMed, Web of Science, SPORTDiscus, MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL Plus, PsycINFO and Cochrane Library databases.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies All randomised trials with or without a control group (randomised controlled trials or randomised uncontrolled trials) and non-randomised controlled trials that used recreational soccer, which includes small-sided soccer games, as the sole or principal intervention, and reported relevant effects in untrained/sedentary, healthy or unhealthy adults aged 40 years and above were included.

Results Five trials described in 13 articles were included, which scored 6–9 out of 12 points on the modified Delphi quality rating scale. The duration was from 12 to 52 weeks, with various frequencies, volumes and game formats performed both outdoors and indoors with men and women. The trials indicate that recreational soccer may result in improvement in cardiovascular function, body composition and functional ability, although no significant changes were observed in postural balance.

Conclusion Recreational soccer should be considered an alternative exercise modality for untrained, healthy or unhealthy middle-aged and older adults of both sexes to maintain an active lifestyle and mitigate a wide array of physical and physiological age-related changes.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License