Across the WHO European Region physical inactivity accounts for around a million deaths per year (about 10% of the total). High levels of sedentary behaviour are associated with adverse health outcomes and increased mortality. Inactivity and sedentary behaviour cluster together with other risk factors for ill health such as poor diet and obesity.
Whilst national and local government, health care systems and the private sector have all attempted to respond to rising levels of physical inactivity through both population level and targeted interventions, it is still the case that men are less likely to engage in positive lifestyle change, and represent only 10-30% of participants in current lifestyle change programmes across Europe.
This is where sports clubs and their stadia can make a difference, with professional football clubs leading the way by harnessing the already established loyalty and attachment many men feel towards their football clubs to encourage maximum participation and retention in physical activity programmes.
Healthy Stadia is a project partner for the EU funded European Fans In Training (EuroFIT) programme, working with top football clubs from across Europe to get male fans moving more and sitting less. The EuroFIT consortium is evaluating the performance of a behaviour change programme tailored to male football fans through a multi-centre, randomised controlled trial (RCT) in 15 football clubs across the UK, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal, to verify its impact on physical activity and sedentary behaviour, physical and mental health.
Inactive football fans between 30-65 years old participate part in a 12 week long, interactive programme led by coaches from pilot football clubs, with training sessions being held at club grounds and training facilities. In addition to using behaviour change and self-determination techniques, technological developments are also used to provide continuous feedback for monitoring progress which help keep men motivated and active. This includes the new SitFIT™, being developed by Glasgow-based PAL Technologies Ltd which will monitor how much time is spent sitting and how much time is spent moving around.