Could walking football be as good for us as the real thing?

Walking football is a new form of exercise that could be ideal for anyone who’s new to exercise, trying to build their strength back up, or who just finds running around completely barbaric. (Hiya.)

We all know how fit footballers have to be, and can imagine from the comfort of our sofas how exhausting it must be to run the length of a football pitch. But what if you didn’t have to run? Maybe then it really would be a beautiful game.

Walking football was invented in 2011 as a way to ensure people can keep playing for longer (most amateur footballers give up the game in their thirties). Matches are slower paced, and instead of running, players walk around the pitch (but at a brisk pace – no dawdling allowed). However, there hasn’t been any research into whether walking football has comparable benefits to the traditional version.

So now Peter Reddy from Aston University has launched a new 12-week study to find out if walking football has as many health benefits as its fans hope. He’ll assess two groups of men and women who each play once a week, measuring their blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, and other vital stats, as well as their psychological health.

Although it’s still early days, he hopes that his research will prove the benefits of this slower paced version of footy. He says, ‘If the data is positive, it will form a basis for local and national charities and authorities to set up and support local Walking Football groups. We want to ensure people are healthy for longer – and that they can enjoy a kickabout at any age.’

Diane Shipley