Our Walking Football Programme Kickstarts Health Benefits

Fri 9th June 2017

Those who took part in the Foundation’s Walking Football Programme are showing significant health improvements according to new research by the University of the West of Scotland.

Researchers worked with the Foundation's coaches and our Walking Football participants to take health measurements at the start and at the end of the eight week long programme to see the difference it made to their wellbeing.

They found that participants, who were all deemed to be from groups at high-risk of developing chronic health issues such as cardiovascular disease and type-2-diabetes, had succeeded in lowering their blood pressure over the eight week block - a significant result as all participants on the programme had blood pressure outwith the normal range at the start of the programme.

Attendance levels over the eight weeks were excellent (a mean attendance of 90% was achieved) and as well as the physical health benefits many participants reported a real boost in wellbeing from the team atmosphere and camaraderie they experienced on the programme.

One participant commented: “I think that is the biggest bonus of it, when you meet people.

"You wouldn’t imagine at my age, and everybody else’s age, you would meet new friends, and I have already got two people that I have went and met outside of football for just a bite to eat and a coffee or something, and I keep in regular contact. So I would say the bonuses of walking football are social.”

Another added: “When the walking football came up, it gave me this back, to get up and get out. I thoroughly enjoy it, it’s great fun, the camaraderie between all the group that I’ve been involved in, it’s just superb.

"I like the social aspect as well, we’re quite together and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it felt like I was back 16 again, playing, I felt that kind of feeling when everything’s going right.”

The link to the Club was also significant, with participants indicating that the involvement of Rangers was an important aspect of their initial attraction to the walking football programme.

Lead Researcher, and one of the authors of the report, Eilidh Macrae, said: "In this study participants noted that the link to a professional football club (Rangers Football Club) was an important aspect of their initial attraction to the walking football programme, but having now tried it they would be willing to join other sessions without this professional club link."

Tags: walking football / community / research / health