D.P. Heil, FACSM1, D.D.A. Salle2

1 Montana State University, Bozeman, MT USA; 2 Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia

Walking football (WF), the walking version of competitive football (i.e., soccer), is a relatively new team-based sport that has attracted middle-aged and older adults around the world into WF clubs to train and compete. While some research has focused on the potential health benefits of WF participation, there does not appear to be any research focused on evaluating walking fitness tests as correlates of physical effort during WF competitions. PURPOSE: This study evaluated correlations of walking test performance with common metrics of walking performance during match play. We hypothesized that these metrics would positively correlate with a walking distance test and negatively correlate with a maximal walking speed test. METHODS: Men’s (n=17; Mean±SD: 50±10 yrs age, 27.3±4.6 kg/m2 BMI) and women’s (n=20; Mean±SD: 55±15 yrs age, 27.4±5.2 kg/m2 BMI) WF teams from England, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, all competing in a WF tournament in Singapore, were recruited for this study. The day before the tournament, participants each performed two walking tests: 10m Walk Test (10mWT) to determine maximal walking speed, and the 6-min Walk Test (6minWT) to measure maximal walking distance in 6 mins. During the tournament, each participant wore a neoprene waist pack with an accelerometry-based activity monitor (AM) that was used to derive three metrics from a single competitive match: Total steps/match (STEPS), summed activity counts (AC), and a sum of the computed MET values (MET-mins). Values from the 10mWT and 6minWT were then each correlated (both genders pooled) with STEPS, AC, and MET-mins (0.05 alpha). RESULTS: 10mWT values correlated negatively and significantly with STEPS (R=-0.56, P<0.001), AC (R=-0.63, P<0.001), and METmins (R=-0.57, P<0.001). 6minWT values, in contrast, all correlated slightly positively and non-significantly with STEPS (R=0.07, P=0.66), AC (R=0.12, P=0.46), and METmins (R=0.06, P=0.73). CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that several common WF physical metrics (STEPS, AC, METmins) related to 10mWT performance, while the same metrics were not related to 6minWT performance. If causally linked by a future study, metrics of WF match play performance may be improved by improving 10mWT performance.

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