Whether you’ve been glued to the TV or doing your best to avoid the World Cup completely, football has been the topic on most people's lips recently.
Football is one of the most popular sports in the UK. It’s played right across the nation, from grassroots to elite level, and by people of all ages.
If you’re older, have limited mobility, or suffer from a long-term health condition or disability, you may think that your football-playing days are over. Think again!
Believe it or not, the beautiful game is now more accessible than ever, thanks to a new sporting phenomenon sweeping the nation: walking football.
What is walking football?
You may well be wondering: what is walking football?
Walking football is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a variant of regular football, where players walk rather than run.
The rules also allow either no contact or minimal physical contact between players.
The sport first came to the nation’s attention in 2014 when a Barclay’s TV advert introduced walking football to our screens.
It’s aimed at the over 50s age group, although many tournaments are now catering specifically for those aged 60 and above.
It was developed to help people get fit and maintain an active lifestyle, regardless of age, ability, or fitness level.
What are the benefits of walking football?
Walking football is a great way of staying mobile and healthy. Today, men and women all over the country are reaping the benefits.
Walking football counts as aerobic activity, which improves blood pressure, can lower your cholesterol, and helps strengthen bones. This in turn reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The NHS recommends that adults aged 65 and over aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. Walking football is a fun way to incorporate exercise into your weekly routine, while having an opportunity to socialise at the same time.
It can also improve balance; develop core strength; and help manage or reduce your weight.
Many of these benefits can be obtained through other forms of exercise, such as going for a walk or a swim. However, walking football also offers a host of psychological advantages and can have a positive impact on your mental health.
A key element of football is working as part of a team, and walking football is no different. It’s a fantastic way to reduce loneliness, encourage socialisation, and help people rediscover – or discover for the first time – the joys of football.
Playing with others also gives people a chance to make new friends, develop new skills, and feel part of the wider community. For many people, the trip to the pub after a game is as beneficial as playing the game itself.
I’d like to give it a try – how can I get involved with a walking football team?
Walking football teams cater to all abilities. Whether you regularly have a kick-about with the grandkids or you haven’t been near a football pitch in years, you’re sure to be welcomed onto your local team.
If you’d like to give walking football a go, this website lets you find your local clubs.
You could also try contacting your local Age UK branch, or using Google to search for walking football clubs in your area.
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