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Posted by portugalpress on January 03, 2018
Walking football supports local youth football
Teams from the UK are regular visitors
Participants warm-up before the action starts
The social side of the sport has created many friendships

Fun, fitness and friendship are the bywords of the East Algarve Walking Football group which has mushroomed in the past year and now embraces sessions on four days a week.

In Olhão, at the José Arcanjo Stadium astro-turf pitch (behind McDonalds on the EN125), where it all started three years ago, there is a slower paced meeting for the over 60s on Tuesday mornings whilst the normal Thursday session continues come sun, wind or rain.

The Tavira walking football sessions take place every Monday morning on the superb 4G astro pitch adjoining the Eduardo Mansinho Sports Hall, Avenida Zeca Afonso.

Regular activity not only makes you stronger, it lifts your mood, helps you sleep better and keeps arthritis and other mobility problems at bay.

Walking football is a minimal-contact sport, and anything other than brisk walking is penalised. This makes it ideal for the “older” generation, with little risk of injury.

For those looking for more rigorous exercise, a new departure takes place at the same venue on Wednesday mornings for those who want to play normal football with no age restrictions and running is encouraged.

There is also walking football taking place in Lagos and Vilamoura; details of which can be found on the website.

Walking football is a slow-paced version of the beautiful game aimed at the “more mature” person (with no upper age limit). Older people are getting a new lease of life from the physical activity as well as the social interaction and the banter in the café after each session.

The camaraderie walking football offers is as vital as the physical engagement, says Peter Reddy, researcher and reader in psychology at Aston University, Warwickshire UK. Reddy is studying the benefits of walking football, measuring changes in postural balance, blood pressure and resting heart rate, cholesterol, blood sugar and bone density in several groups of players aged 50 and over.

“I’m also looking into the psychological advantages,” he explains. “Research into older males exposed to lifelong football found they had high levels of ‘flow’ while playing football – a state of psychological reward and satisfaction. They also reported low levels of stress and exertion while playing, despite working hard.”

Peter Reddy’s study into the health benefits follows those from Denmark showing how football can be effective in the treatment of hypertension and the activation of fat oxidation and aerobic power in the body. So why not give walking football a try?

www.walkingfootballalgarve.com

By CHRIS WRIGHT

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