Innovative Physical Activity Program for Diabetes Patients: The Impact of Walking Football

Innovative Physical Activity Program for Diabetes Patients: The Impact of Walking Football


Currently, the municipality of Marco de Canaveses has six Walking Football teams, a partnership project between the Portuguese Football Federation and the Porto Football Association, which emerged “the need to develop innovative physical activity programs to control type 2 diabetes. Although physical activity is recommended as part of diabetes treatment, the majority of people with this chronic disease are not active enough. In addition to being safe and clinically effective, physical exercise strategies must be fun”explains Ana Barbosa.

The Marcoense native of Vila Boa de Quires presented on June 12th her doctorate in Public Health – “Walking Football for type 2 diabetes patients: a novel strategy for developing physical activity programs”, within the scope of the partnership between the Faculty of Medicine and the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto (FMUP – ISPUP) and the Portuguese Football Federation.

In an interview with A TRUTH newspaper, nurse and researcher Ana Barbosa states that “for several years and in several countries” that the work team has been following the evolution of Walking Football, identifying “very promising results in controlling some cardiovascular risk factors”.

In 2018, the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto (ISPUP) and the Portuguese Football Federation applied for a FIFA scientific grant to explore the applicability and safety of the sport in people with type 2 diabetes – SWEET-Football – (SWEET: Safe, Wholesome and Effective Exercise Training).

“In the scientific project we found that Walking Football is an easy modality to implement, has low cost, has high participation among its participants, is safe, and is a lot of fun. These ‘benefits’ are, in large part, due to supervision by physical exercise professionals, but also by health professionals“.

In this projectaccording to the Marcoense researcher, all sessions were accompanied by an accredited football coach and a nurse, “as if it were a real sports team. It was also very important to observe the relationships that were created between the participants. Many were alone at home and now have a network of friends with whom they can socialize and seek support, on and off the field.“.

At the moment, the Portuguese Football Federation is working on promoting the sport and, currently, in Portugal, Walking Football is already practiced by almost one thousand and five hundred people, “I am the result of the scientific studies that were carried out in my doctorate and another that will be completed soon. The modality is expanding rapidly, due to a promotion campaign and investment from the FPF. In the coming months and years, it is expected that it will be a modality known to everyone, including health professionals who will be able to more easily direct their users to the nearest practice center”emphasizes.

Her passion for research arose when the 32-year-old nurse began her master’s degree at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, when she came into contact with “with several areas of health research that I hadn’t had before” and that you “aroused interest”.

On the other hand, the fact that I had teachers “excellent” at the Public Health Institute of the University of Porto, made “this reality approached. At the end of the first year of the master’s degree, I joined a multidisciplinary team that was working on a project at IPO-Porto with breast cancer survivors. At that time, I realized the fascination of connecting the two worlds, research and health“, he remembers.

Ana Barbosa has a degree in Nursing, with a subsequent specialization in Community Nursing. She completed her master’s degree in Health Education and recently completed her PhD in Public Health from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto. Currently, she works as a researcher at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto in the area of ​​health economics, and at the Portugal Football School of the Portuguese Football Federation.

After this project, the researcher hopes “to be able to continue contributing to this area and deeply investigate the economic benefits that we will have by reducing physical inactivity in the population, both at the level of health services and at the individual and family level. If, on the one hand, we already know from other studies that there are benefits to breaking physical inactivity, in relation to Walking Football it has not yet been studied”clarifies.

For now, I am certain that as a nurse and researcher I am “It’s really rewarding to realize that with a research project, which showed benefits and then became a community project, it can improve a lot. people’s health and quality of life. This is the magic of public health, working on some determinants that affect the health of the population, and not just Mr. António or Mr. José, who I also treated when I practiced nursing at the Matosinhos Local Health Unit. But, in fact, in public health we work for many people at the same time”, emphasizes Ana Barbosa.

The Portuguese project has already crossed borders and, recently, the World Health Organization and the European Commission requested that it be presented as an example of success in promoting physical activity.

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2024-06-23 20:00:00
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