D.D.A. Salle1, R.U. Newton1, D.P. Heil, FACSM2

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

Walking football is a new sport popular with middle-aged and older adults, but relatively little is known about the determinants of metabolic intensity while playing. PURPOSE: This study was designed to measure and compare the average metabolic equivalent (MET) – a measure of metabolic intensity – and walking cadence (WC) with established thresholds associated with a moderate intensity physical activity. Specifically, it was hypothesized that average intensity would be ≥3.0 METs and WC ≥100 steps/min during competitive walking football matches. METHODS: Quantitative observational data were collected during a tournament that included all members of four participating teams (22 women and 20 men) representing the countries of Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore – (Mean±SD; 51±11 years old, 27.3±5.2 kg/m2 BMI). Participants wore a neoprene waist pack with an accelerometry-based activity monitor (AM) that collected and summarized accelerometry data every 60 seconds. After the tournament, the data were downloaded to a computer and transformed into average METs and WC for each minute of game play. Mean METs and WC values for all players of each match were compared to their moderate intensity thresholds (i.e., 3.0 METs and 100 steps/min, respectively) using one-sample t-tests and a Bonferroni adjusted alpha of 0.006. Lastly, the linear relationship between METs and WC was evaluated using linear regression. RESULTS: Mean METs for each match (3.2-3.9 METs) either met or exceeded the 3.0 METs threshold (P<0.006) as hypothesized, but mean WC of 44-63 steps/min were all significantly lower than the 100 steps/min threshold. The correlation between METs and WC for all matches was moderately strong (R=0.78; P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: These results support the premise that competitive walking football is played at moderate intensity (or higher) in middle-aged and older adults. The unexpected lower walking cadence values, however, suggest that further research is warranted to better understand the determinants of metabolic and cardiovascular intensity when playing this sport.

Supported by Edith Cowan University (Perth, Western Australia, AU).

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