The emergence of soccer clubs targeted at older people in Europe may have a range of health benefits, and a team is being built to test that theory.
Aston University investigators noted that "walking" soccer clubs started to grow in popularity at the beginning of this decade. The games are played at a slower pace to reduce injury and pain, according to the researchers, who are in the process of building a study looking into the health benefits of these clubs.
The investigation will assess two groups of men and women over the age of 48 playing "Walking Football" once a week for 12 weeks. Participants will be regularly assessed to measure changes in their postural balance, blood pressure and resting heart rate, cholesterol, blood sugar and bone density – all indicators of general good health.
The study will also look into the psychological advantages of playing Walking Football. Recent research into older males exposed to lifelong football found they had high levels of ‘flow’ while playing football – a state of psychological reward and satisfaction. They also reported low levels of stress and exertion while playing, despite working hard.
In the context of an aging society, rising levels of obesity and the growing incident of late onset diabetes, the researchers noted in a press release that "Walking Football" has the potential to have a significant effect.
Like sports, want to play into old age without the injury risk? Walking football – or basketball, or lots of other things – might be the answer. Football – soccer in the United States – is running and kicking. If you change the running to walking, the skill is the same but the injury risk is reduced.