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The impact of 12 weeks walking football on health and fitness in males over 50 years of age
  1. Josh Timothy Arnold1,
  2. Stewart Bruce-Low1,
  3. Luke Sammut2
  1. 1School of Sport, Health and Social Sciences, Southampton Solent University, Southampton, Hampshire, UK
  2. 2University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, Hampshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Josh Arnold; josh.t.arnold{at}


Aim To describe and characterise anthropometrical and fitness changes following a 12-week walking football programme in individuals over the age of 50 years.

Methods Following ethical approval, 10 male participants (mean (SD): age 66 (7) years) with a range of comorbidities completed a 12-week walking football programme, consisting of a single 2 h training session each week. Body mass, fat mass, fat free mass, maximal oxygen consumption, maximal heart rate, exercise time to exhaustion and isometric hand-grip strength, were assessed at baseline and immediately following the intervention. Week-0–12 intervention differences were determined using means (95% CIs) and t tests; effect sizes were calculated using Cohen's d (0.2 small, 0.5 medium, 0.8 large).

Results 12 weeks walking football significantly reduced body fat mass (week 0, 27.4 (9.0) kg versus week 12, 24.4 (8.9) kg, p=<0.05, d=1.0) and reduced percentage body fat (week 0, 30.3 (8.2) % versus week 12, 27.5 (8.5) %, p=<0.05, d=1.0). A significant increase in time to volitional exhaustion during increamental exercise (week 0, 545 (102) s versus week 12, 603 (102) s, p=<0.05, d=0.7) was observed without any change in peak blood lactate. Non-significant differences with medium effect sizes were seen for a reduction whole body mass, increase in lean body mass and a reduction in body mass index.

Conclusions This investigation suggests the potential efficacy of walking football as a public health intervention, even in populations presenting a range of comorbidities, with future research investigating its move to scale.

  • Football
  • Exercise
  • Public health
  • Physical activity
  • Body composition

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