The impact of 12 weeks walking football on health and fitness in males over 50 years of age

Josh Timothy Arnold, Stewart Bruce-Low, Luke Sammut

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31 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000048
JournalBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


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

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