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Men's Health Week: Age is no barrier to being active and competitive

17 June 2015

The role for housing and housing providers in future ill health prevention and wellbeing strategies is growing as local health and social care budgets are being squeezed.

As a housing association for residents over 55, Hanover encourages active lifestyles and promotes well-being – both of which are a key focus during Men’s Health Week 2015 (15-21 June).

Hanover’s residents are supported to maintain healthy and active lifestyles as much as possible. Many residents engage in activities organised by Hanover on its estates.

Some, like 68-year-old Patrick Moorhouse from Hemel Hempstead, plough their own furrow.

Patrick, who lives at Hanover’s Great Palmers estate, has had a lifelong passion for football. He gave up playing Sunday League football some 20 years ago, but has since searched for a way to remain fit and healthy. Now he combines his passion with his aim for an active lifestyle by taking part in walking football – a sport which is taking the country’s older population by storm.

Walking football is a variant of the traditional game which is aimed at keeping people aged over 50 involved with football if, due to a lack of mobility or for other reasons, they are not able to play the traditional game.  

The key difference in the rules is that if a player runs then they concede a free kick to the other side. This restriction, together with a ban on slide tackles helps avoid injuries and facilitates the playing of the sport by those who are less physically able. The sport helps improve cardiovascular function whilst producing less stress on the body.

In walking football the game is played without goalkeepers and, crucially, the ball must never be kicked above hip height. The size of the pitch can vary to suit different locations.

Today, there are over 350 regular walking football sessions across the country. And at 68, Patrick Moorhouse can’t get enough of it. He plays four times a week for local teams such as the Uxbridge Amblers – London’s first affiliated walking football club.

Patrick says: ‘Although I’m no Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s a great way to continue competing, stay in shape and make new friends.

‘I also enjoy the changing room banter with team-mates. On my debut for Uxbridge Amblers the team complimented me on the way I played but forced me to promise not to wear my Manchester United shirt again!’

Chloe Butler, a football development officer at Wiltshire FA, adds: ‘Quite a few players who start with one session quickly grow in confidence and, like Patrick, turn up to different sessions at a new venue, which is great.’

Chris Munday, Executive Director of Operations for Hanover, says: ‘Activities for residents on Hanover estates up and down the country increasingly reflect the need for housing providers to create wellbeing and prevention strategies. Residents are helped as much as possible to adopt healthy lifestyles both on and off the estates.

‘Patrick’s walking football career is an inspiration to many older people and shows that age is no barrier to adopting or maintaining an active lifestyle, and having great fun into the bargain.’

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