Sing when you’re slimming - new scheme to help football fans get fit
A new scheme to help fans get fit through their love of football has been officially launched in Wales.
FIT FANS is a collaboration between the Football Association of Wales and the English Football League Trust (EFL Trust), supported by funding from the Welsh Government’s ‘Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales’ programme.
Football fans aged between 35 and 65 will be able to join the 12-week healthy lifestyle programme. The free scheme will be delivered by the charitable arms of Welsh football clubs and their community coaching staff to groups of up to 30 people who are hoping to lose weight.
Participants are encouraged to make long term behavioural changes by incorporating physical activity and healthy eating into their daily lives. The course includes exercise sessions, classes on improving eating habits and pedometer-based walking exercise during the week.
The programme has delivered its first classes in Wales at Cardiff City, Newport County and Swansea City, with Wrexham, Aberystwyth Town and Caernarfon following next month.
About 1.5 million adults in Wales are overweight or obese, with higher levels in the most deprived areas. The new programme is part of Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales, the Welsh Government’s long-term strategy to prevent and reduce obesity in Wales.
Speaking at the launch event at the Cardiff City Stadium, the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being, Lynne Neagle, said:
“Being a healthy weight is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of long-term health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancers.
“If we want to reduce obesity, we need to use innovative ways to encourage more people to get fit and develop healthier lifestyles. The FIT FANS programme is a great way to help football fans improve their health at their local club.”
Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, said:
“This is an excellent way for football fans to come together to make a positive change for their lifestyles and health – together stronger. As a Government, our aim is to encourage more people to take part in sport and active recreation and to be taking enough exercise to see significant health benefits. It’s excellent to see that these classes will be available at many football stadiums across Wales – and I wish those taking part every success on their journey to a healthier lifestyle.”
Cathy Abraham, CEO of EFL Trust, said:
“Through the unique appeal of football and the power of the club badge, FIT FANS successfully engages people who need help improving their health but aren’t motivated by the gym or the myriad of commercial weight loss programmes. We’re thrilled to be working with the Football Association of Wales and the Welsh Government to bring FIT FANS to football communities across the country.”
Eleri Williams from the Football Association of Wales said:
“Here at the FAW, we believe that there is huge potential for clubs across Cymru to become centres of community wellness. We are committed to doing what we can to support clubs to harness that potential and the FitFans programme is an important element of that. Through the programme, fans can come together, get fitter, healthier and make new friends, all within the football family environment.”
Further information on how to take part can be found through participating clubs or at FIT FANS - (efltrust.com).
Notes to editors
There is a filming opportunity at one of the sessions in Cardiff on Tuesday 4th April (evening), along with interviews with the participants and the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being. If interested in attending, please call Matthew Morris on 07989 416502.
Further background information on Fit Fans:
- To join FIT FANS, participants must:
o Be aged 35 to 65 years.
o Have a waist size of 38 inches (96.5cm) or more (males) or 31 inches (female)
o Have an objectively measured BMI of at least 28kg/m2
o Not have done FIT FANS before
o Complete the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q).
- The FIT FANS programme in Wales involves a number of changes to lifestyle and behaviour through a shared love of football, including practical advice on how to:
o Improve their eating habits in line with the Eatwell Guide by reducing portion sizes and swapping fatty and sugary foods for fruit, vegetables, and high fibre foods.
o Work towards achieving the CMO Guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week. They receive weekly exercise sessions at their club for 12 weeks and follow a personal pedometer-based walking programme that encourages them to fit physical activity into their daily lives.
o Use tried-and-tested behaviour change techniques to become more active and improve their diet. These include regular self-monitoring of their weight and pedometer step counts and setting SMART goals to make changes that can be sustained long term
- The 12-week active phase would be followed by a maintenance phase, including e-mail prompts from coaches, a group reunion, and the chance to stay together as a group to take part in weekly physical activity sessions.
- FIT FANS has successfully been delivered at over 40 EFL clubs in England since 2019 and more than 8,000 people have engaged on the programme. On average, participants lose over five per cent of their body weight during the 12 weeks. To date, participants have lost a total of 17 tonnes, the equivalent of 17 VW Beetles.
- About EFL Trust: Using the power of football, the EFL, its Clubs and CCOs provide life-changing opportunities to people of all ages through community schemes designed to help tackle some of society’s biggest issues. Working closely with the EFL Trust, the charitable arm of the EFL, Clubs and CCOs deliver a variety of programmes 365 day a year spanning health and wellbeing, education and employment, and participation and community engagement.