Encouraging sport and fitness in men over 50
As people age, they tend to feel less confidence about continuing to take part in their favourite sports activities. In addition to exacerbating existing injuries, there is also the fear of sustaining new problems. However, this is the time at which it is critical to keep as active as possible, since we know exercise can offer a multitude of health benefits to older people. These include reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, improving blood pressure, balance and resting heart rate, lowering cholesterol, protecting bone density and improving reflexes and reactions.
A slow-paced, non-contact version of the beautiful game aimed at the over 50s, walking football is currently becoming very popular all over the UK. Designed to attract people who want to retain their fitness into their later years, it can also help players who have had had to playing football owing to sustaining injuries.
Thanks to walking football, many men have reported improvements in physical health and fitness, wellbeing and improved self confidence. In turn, this has had a positive impact on their daily living and maintaining and increasing their levels of independence. At the same time, introducing the new hobby to the local community has given an isolated section of the community the chance to become involved in something they really enjoy, and to form new friendships with like-minded people.
Small adaptations to familiar activities – to take account of the changing levels of fitness and fatigue we experience as we age – can make all the difference to attracting and encouraging participants who enjoyed playing sport in their younger years. However, people don’t actively have to play walking football to enjoy benefits – spectators, supporters and social members are also experiencing improvements in their lives, such as keeping mentally active and feeling a sense of belonging.
As interest and involvement grows in walking football in the Rochdale area, it is hoped that eventually more local teams will be formed and matches will be held regularly.