Football promotes health and has the potential to inspire more people to exercise well into old age
Physical activity, social interaction and a sense of community are among the effects of foot-soccer – known as foot-soccer in the United States – an increasingly popular senior sport, now approached in a Swedish scientific study. Research findings show that sport promotes health and has the potential to lead more people to exercise well into old age.
The study was conducted jointly by the Swedish School of Sports and Health Sciences (GIH), the Center for Health and Performance (CHP) at the University of Gothenburg and the Swedish Football Association (SvFF). ), as part of its “Walking Project “Football for Health” program.
Foot football resembles the regular version of the game (soccer) but is usually played on a smaller pitch, with fewer players per team and at a walking pace. A player must always have one foot touching the ground. A few studies have analyzed how sport can improve physical and mental health and promote social contacts. However, previous studies have largely focused on older men, and studies in a Swedish setting have been lacking.
Field and laboratory tests
In the present study, 65 walking footballers from three clubs (Enskede IK, IFK Viksjö and IF Elfsborg) were included. Players took part in up to four six-player team field tests in two halves of 20 minutes each. On one occasion, participants underwent various laboratory performance tests, including strength, fitness, balance, and jumping ability. They were also asked to complete a questionnaire on football walking, socio-demographic variables (age, gender, education, etc.), lifestyle and health.
The group surveyed included 45 men and 20 women, aged 71 on average, whose health profile was consistent with that of the general population of the same age. Two-thirds were overweight (BMI over 25) and almost half had been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Compared to the general population, the physical condition, grip strength, balance, leg strength and jumping ability of walking footballers were slightly higher. Their physical activity pattern, measured with pedometers over seven days, was comparable to that of younger people (50 to 64 years) in the general population.
GPS data showed that participants covered an average distance of 2.4 kilometers (2.5 for men and 2.2 for women) during a 40-minute football game on foot. Their average heart rate was 131 beats per minute in the first half and 133 in the second. On the 20-point Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale, participants ranked 12.1 for the first half and 12.9 for the second.
Intensity adapted to several
Before and after the foot-and-foot sessions, participants’ self-rated well-being was relatively high. The main reasons they cited for participating in organized football on foot were socializing with others, exercise and physical training, being part of a group and team, and having previously played football and found that they were missing it.
“Overall, the results show that a 40-minute soccer foot session is a medium-intensity activity for the target group studied,” says GIH University professor Helena Andersson, now active at GIH. Umea University.
“The study also shows that participants in this group not only feel great and are already active, but come from a variety of backgrounds and walks of life. This paves the way for many more people to be included and stay active well into old age,” says Elin Ekblom Bak, senior lecturer at GIH University.
Footwalking is roughly what is often meant by the Swedish Physical Activity by Prescription method, which aims to prevent and treat disease. In order to include foot-foot in the method, we want to carry out an intervention study where foot-foot is tested as a treatment.
Professor Mats Börjesson, University of Gothenburg