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Win for football fitness drive

Wednesday February 6th, 2019

A gender-specific initiative for increasing men’s health has been found to be effective across several different European countries, researchers report today.

The European Fans in Training (EuroFIT) programme aimed to change the lifestyle patterns of male football fans of 15 European football clubs based in England, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal.

A trial of the programme, based on of 1,113 men aged 30 to 65 years, has shown it is more effective in improving physical activity than other physical activity intervention programmes. It also led to improvements in diet, weight, wellbeing, self-esteem, vitality and biomarkers of health risk.

The research was published in PLoS Medicine yesterday, 5 February.

Professor Sally Wyke of the University of Glasgow, UK, and colleagues explain that the EuroFIT programme is funded by the EU, and “harnesses the intense loyalty that many fans have for their club, using this to attract them to a lifestyle change programme at club facilities."

The training programme is delivered by club’s community coaches for 90 minutes a week over 12 weeks. It includes the use of a novel pocket-worn device to self-monitor time spent sitting and daily steps, with a game-based app for social support.

Professor Wyke said: “The results of our randomised control trial of EuroFIT support the findings of the earlier FFIT study. Gender-sensitised lifestyle programmes delivered in professional football clubs show great promise in Europe and could play an important public health role in engaging under-served men.

“The results also show that reducing the amount of time that people spend sitting is a real challenge for public health. We recommend that future lifestyle studies should attempt to ensure that participants understand the distinction between being more physically active and spending less time sitting down being very inactive."

Wyke, S. et al. The effect of a programme to improve men's sedentary time and physical activity: The European Fans in Training (EuroFIT) randomised controlled trial. PLoS Medicine 5 February 2019; doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002736

Tags: Europe | Fitness | Men's Health | UK News

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