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Benefits of walking football for men & women over 50

Many of our members benefit from Walking Football



Walking football is essentially the same as regular football but being aimed at the over 50s age group and normally 6 A-side. It has very specific rules that outlaw all running and allow only minimal physical contact between players and as a result games are played at a slower pace, often on state of the art 3G artificial grass pitches thus reducing the threat of pain, discomfort and injury, with players briskly walking through matches. This allows people who have loved the sport all their lives to once again safely get back to playing and also introduces the sport to people who perhaps have never considered playing before.

WALKING FOOTBALL HEALTH BENEFITS AND GENERAL WELLBEING:

Walking football offers a multitude of health benefits to older people such as, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke while improving blood pressure amongst many others.

Positive changes in postural balance, blood pressure and resting heart rate, lowered cholesterol, improved blood sugar levels, bone density and improving reactions whilst slashing the odds of suffering from type 2 diabetes - all indicators of general good health.

Walking football is an excellent way of staying fit and healthy. Studies have shown it can be effective in the treatment of mild to moderate hypertension and that it can produce high aerobic activity with marked improvements in fat oxidation and aerobic power, probably most importantly, benefits are felt whilst deriving enjoyment, which makes people far more likely to exercise than perhaps, the perceived chore of having to just 'exercise regularly'.

There are also many psychological and mental health advantages to playing walking football, namely high levels of personal reward and satisfaction with reduced levels of stress and exertion while playing, despite working physically hard.

Walking football also gives an often isolated section of the community the chance to become involved in something they really enjoy, make new friends, form lasting relationships with like minded people and generally improve their social circle and overall quality of life, often making them feel less isolated and more a part of the wider community. There are also significant benefits for any older people involved in a walking football environment or club who perhaps don't always want to play but can engage in other aspects of the sport or club such as administrative roles, team manager, organising fixtures etc or sitting on a management committee of the club or even just being involved in a social capacity for the good company and friendship. All these things can help to keep older people mentally active and give their lives a very real sense of purpose and belonging, the value of which cannot be overstated.

As we get older, many of us struggle with our balance, strength, stamina, weight and worst of all confidence and self esteem levels but walking football has the potential to make a significant impact in all these areas, building body strength, improving muscles, core stability and hopefully losing some of the weight usually gained during the ageing process.

As well as being able to increase fitness levels, emotional health gets a great boost too for a person involved in walking football, not least self confidence and self esteem.

"Many older men suffer from a lack of confidence, which is why many of them shy away from engaging in physical activity or a game of football with younger people. The biggest reason older men don't engage in physical activity is a lack of confidence. This is about getting them out there and meeting others in the same boat." Chief Officer at Age UK Blackpool, Terri Sawkill

As a real life example, and testament to the value of walking football, when asked about what obstacles he had to overcome as he retired and got older and what walking football had given him, Derek Widdup, who is over 70 years old and a regular playing member of the Fleetwood Town Flyers Walking FC had this to say;

"Walking football has given me the confidence to meet with people again and have a normal conversation after becoming somewhat of a recluse. As well as the mental side of things a few years ago I had two knee replacements and I thought I wouldn`t be able to do anything sporty ever again. I also had a balance problem and when I turned quickly I could sometimes fall over, but all the lads were great and there was always someone there to help you up and check if you were ok. In honesty, Walking football has helped transform my life"

Whilst Derek is just one example of the benefits offered by participation in walking football he is certainly not alone as is often borne out whilst chatting to other people in matches and tournaments up and down the country who all seem to echo his sentiments and have a story to tell about how walking football has given them a new lease of life, helped them lose weight and get fitter or are just happy that they are making new friends whilst doing something they really enjoy.




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