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Br J Sports Med. 2015 Apr;49(7):434-40. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-093885. Epub 2015 Jan 7.

Health benefits of different sport disciplines for adults: systematic review of observational and intervention studies with meta-analysis.

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UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, Tampere, Finland.
Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Graz, Graz, Austria.
Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.
Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
Department of Teacher Education, University of Turku, Rauma, Finland.
British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, University of Oxford, Oxford, England.


The aim was to assess the quality and strength of evidence for the health benefits of specific sport disciplines. Electronic search yielded 2194 records and the selection resulted in 69 eligible studies (47 cross-sectional, 9 cohort, 13 intervention studies). 105 comparisons between participation and non-participation groups in 26 different sport disciplines were reported. Moderately strong evidence showed that both running and football improve aerobic fitness and cardiovascular function at rest, and football reduces adiposity. Conditional evidence showed that running benefits metabolic fitness, adiposity and postural balance, and football improves metabolic fitness, muscular performance, postural balance, and cardiac function. Evidence for health benefits of other sport disciplines was either inconclusive or tenuous. The evidence base for the health benefits of specific sports disciplines is generally compromised by weak study design and quality. Future research should address the health effects of different sport disciplines using rigorous research designs.


Aerobic fitness; Evidence based review; Health promotion; Intervention effectiveness; Sports analysis in different types of sports

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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