The Effect of 12-Weeks Recreational Football (Soccer) for Health Intervention on Functional Movement in Older Adults

Michael J. Duncan*, Sophie Mowle, Mark Noon, Emma Eyre, Neil D. Clarke, Mathew Hill, Jason Tallis, Mikko Julin

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (SciVal)


    There is growing evidence that recreational football offers health benefits for older adults and an important pathway for physical activity for older adult groups. Despite anecdotal evidence that recreational football is beneficial for older adults, no empirical data are available to support this assertion. This study addressed this issue and examined the effects of a 12-week recreational football intervention on the functional fitness of older adults. Using a pre–post case–control design, thirteen males, aged 61–73 years (mean age ± SD = 66 ± 4 years) undertook a twice-weekly, 12-week recreational football for health intervention, and were matched with a control group, comprising thirteen males, aged 62–78 years (mean age ± SD = 66 ± 4 years) who maintained their typical exercise habits during the intervention period. Pre- and postintervention, participants underwent assessment of functional fitness, using the Rikli and Jones functional fitness battery as well as an assessment of body fatness, via bioelectrical impedance analysis and dominant handgrip strength using handgrip dynamometry. Results from a series of 2 (pre–post) X 2 (intervention vs. control) repeated-measures ANOVAs indicate significant pre–post X group interactions for the 30-second chair stand (p = 0.038, Pƞ2 = 0.168), 8-foot timed up and go (p = 0.001, Pƞ2 = 0.577) and 6 min walk test (p = 0.036, Pƞ2 = 0.171). In all cases, performance improved significantly after the intervention for the football intervention group but not the control group. There were no significant differences in the 30 s arm curl test or dominant handgrip strength (p > 0.05). There was a non-significant trend (p = 0.07, Pƞ2 = 0.127) towards a pre–post X group interaction for body fatness, showing a decreased percent body fat for the intervention group over the control group. The results of the present study demonstrate the utility of recreational football as a physical activity intervention in older adults to improve functional movement.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number13625
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Issue number20
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 20 Oct 2022


    This research was funded by the Erasmus+ Sport programme of the European Commission (Erasmus+ Sport project/603552-EPP-1-2018-1-FI-SPO-SCP).

    FundersFunder number
    European Commission-1-2018-1-FI-SPO-SCP


      • functional fitness
      • motor skill
      • older adults
      • physical activity
      • walking football


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