Health Markers in Division I Football Players Compared to Pre- and Post-Season: A Pilot Study

This study takes a careful look at how a season of football affects the general health of Division I players.

Among high school and collegiate football players, research shows that 56% of football players are considered obese. Training during a season involves rigorous cardio and strength conditioning to physically prepare for the necessary sport skills. While a preseason physical exam is required, minimal health information is gathered post season.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this pilot study was to compare health markers during a pre and post collegiate football season among Division 1 football players.

METHODS: Eleven male freshman players (18±0.24 years) volunteered to be tested before the start of the competitive season. Testing for health markers included demographics (age, height, and weight), fasting Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), blood glucose (BG), blood pressure (BP), and triglycerides (TRI). Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated and additional measures included percent body fat (%BF) and subcutaneous (SCAT) and visceral fat (VAT) depths. Players were reassessed at the end of the football season. Descriptive statistics and comparison between pre and post season were analyzed in SPSS (v24). A repeated measures ANOVA was conducted to compare health markers; alpha level was set at 0.05.

RESULTS: Ten out of the 11 subjects had a significant decrease in their systolic BP (pre: 131±6 mmHg, post: 118±7 mmHg; p=.001) and TRI (pre: 168.27±42.28 mg/dL, post: 116.82±42.28 mg/dL;p=.025). All other health markers had no significant change.

CONCLUSION: This data suggests that there has been a significant change from pre to post season in certain health markers related to cardiovascular health. This study opens the discussion of appropriate fitness training among football players beginning at an early stage. Does the training overlook the athlete’s health in preparation for the sport? This data also highlights the importance of dietary education for the players, as well as, requiring additional health assessments during a preseason physical exam. Further research on dietary consumption during a season is necessary to understand the impact of nutrition on the athlete’s health and fitness.

Coaching Application

Although findings were mostly favorable, the study highlights the need for improved in-
season nutritional guidance and perhaps more in-season fitness attention to cardiovascular health


Swanson, C; Vahk, A; Babcock, G; and Repovich, FACSM, W (2018) “HEALTH MARKERS IN DIVISION 1 FOOTBALL PLAYERS COMPARED PRE- TO POST-SEASON: A PILOT STUDY,” International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: Vol. 8 : Iss. 6 , Article 52. Available at:

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