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30th June 2016

Walking Football

There’s been a lot of talk about young people’s mental health recently, but a recent news story about mental health at the older age range provides an inspiring story and opportunity to promote physical and mental well-being (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-36329589). I’ve written before about initiatives with the theme of getting people together with some mild exercise to bring about all sorts of benefits. So this new initiative is walking football – Britain’s fastest growing sport – apparently!

Mental health benefits
Walking football is primarily aimed at offering physical exercise to a group of people who might not otherwise get it but I think offers another opportunity to promote mental well-being. Men over sixty are very prone to depression, and more likely not to get any NHS treatment, which may have a lot to do with not seeking help. Walking football is a way of getting back socialisation and teamwork that men might have missed since retiring from work. As we know there are also mental well-being benefits from physical exercise, and walking football offers exercise without the risks of injury.

The rules of the game
The idea of walking football is something men can do that they enjoyed in their younger days but at a more measured pace. It’s still a contact sport but there are some rules that take some of the physicality out of it. Walking football is very similar to ordinary football except the following are not allowed:

  • running - if you do you are penalised
  • sliding tackles
  • balls going higher than hip high

Assessing activities
There’s a list of suggested preferred activities that should form part of any social history assessment for people in the QCS policies and procedures around admission into health and social care services.
Well now we’ve a few more to add to the list. As well as walking football here are a few others I’ve written about in the past, some more energetic than others!

These aren’t to be seen as sole treatments for severe mental health problems but can all be part of supporting prevention and recovery. There’s even a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline about it - Mental wellbeing in over 65s: occupational therapy and physical activity interventions (https://www.nice.org.uk/Guidance/PH16)

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

David Beckingham

Mental Health Specialist

David Beckingham is a self-employed independent trainer, and is also an honorary lecturer with the University of Cumbria. His professional background is as a social worker and he has worked in care homes for older people in Cumbria. David’s main area of expertise is in mental health. Prior to becoming self-employed he was a Staff Development and Training Officer with Cumbria County Council, both commissioning and delivering training to mental health workers and others in statutory and independent sector organisations. Read more

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