Recruiting older men to walking football: A pilot feasibility study
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McEwan, G., Buchan, D., Cowan, D., Arthur, R., Sanderson, M. and Macrae, E. (2019) 'Recruiting older men to walking football: A pilot feasibility study', EXPLORE, 15(3), pp. 206-214.
Context Walking football (soccer) has recently emerged as a physical activity option targeted at older males to enhance health and wellbeing. Design This pilot study aimed to examine the feasibility of recruiting and retaining males aged 50 years and over to an 8-week walking football programme in a professional football club. Intervention Participants were recruited via social media and assigned to an intervention group or a wait-list control group. The intervention group engaged in 1 h of walking football a week led by a community coach from the professional football club, followed by an optional social session in the club facility. Physiological and psychological outcome measures were obtained onsite at the football club facility (aiding compliance and retention) at baseline and following 8-weeks, from both groups. Semi-structured interviews were conducted after the 8-week programme and 1 year later, to explore motivations for engagement and the social impact. Results The opportunity to engage in football and the link to a professional football club were key attractions. All participants recruited were overweight, sedentary, exhibited blood pressures outside normal ranges, and all but two were hypertensive. Adherence to the programme was 90% over 8 weeks, and of the participants who were contacted after one year, all (n = 6) had maintained engagement in walking football. Walking football is therefore a feasible, cost-effective method of recruiting and retaining males aged 50 years and over to a physical activity programme, though attrition is to be expected.