The nine health benefits of playing football, and what to do when you get too old.

By Tony Attwood

If you read my ramblings on a fairly regular basis the is a chance that you may have picked up the fact that

a) when I did play football in my younger days I was utterly useless at the game

b) when I played the indoor five a side game in later life I was still utterly useless at the game

c) I have however for many a long year, and still now even though am at an age when many people have packed up exercise (if they ever started it), I do have a form of exercise that I engage in, and which I think has kept me moderately fit: modern jive – a form of dancing.

Now I mention this because I do occasionally talk with people of the older variety, and encourage them to do some sort of exercise.  Football if they are young enough and can get a game, dance if not (because in modern jive clubs you don’t need a partner – there’s usually a roughly equal number of men and women there, and the code of conduct is that one swaps partners all through the evening).

My message is simple: it really isn’t that hard to keep fit, and the benefits are overwhelming.   Football is great if you are able to play with some skill and can find a team, but if not, try dance.

Untold is not about telling people what to do, it is about supporting Arsenal and being interested in football.   So I’ve not particularly written before about trying to stay fit as one gets older; it’s not part of the remit I’ve set myself.

But then I came across this poster, and I thought, since when I am asked, I do go around boring everyone silly with the fact that they ought to try and get regular exercise as they get older, and if they can’t find a sport that they enjoy then maybe dance might do it, I thought I would reproduce it.  It, as they say, “sums it all up.”


Health Benefits of Playing Soccer


These days finding clubs to play is a much easier activity than ever before.  But really, if you have any thought about trying to get fit, even if you have never done it before, and if you feel that football isn’t going to be right for you, then I would suggest you might take a look at modern jive.  Not just because it happens to be one of the things I am good at, but because I have seen so many people have their lives utterly turned around through it.

Dance is a perfect way to meet people and have a good time, while staying fit.  It is sociable, it is not alcohol based (although most of the clubs we dance in do have bars) and it is easy to learn, even for the 95% of the non-dancing male population who claim that they are congenitally unable to dance because they have two left feet.

Every week lots of people start dancing, and if you fancy modern jive go to and scroll to the bottom of the page where you will find a list of all the clubs that teach jive that are on tonight.  And the same throughout the week.

This is not an advert anyone has paid me to put on.  Basically I am just saying, when younger I enjoyed five a side football even though I was utterly useless at it, and it added to my fitness.  Now that playing five a side is not such a clever idea (in that it can take so much longer to recover from an inadvertent kick on the knee or slip on the floor) modern jive does it for me.

Strangely the benefits of dance are even greater than those of playing football, but maybe I’ll leave that for another day.

Untold Arsenal: on things other than staying fit

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 


Cohen Bramall the new Bellerin (inc film), Belloti and Griezmann on the way. Plus nicked copy – an outrage.

Do Arsenal players care about the club? Are they properly prepared for each game? Here’s how you can tell.

Could football learn a thing of two from the way games are refereed in rugby?

BT Sprout in meltdown; Giroud sails on; must be time to knock Lucas.

FA cup : Preston North End – Arsenal 1-2 : Giroud, who else?

New from the Arsenal History Society –

The index of all the major articles on the site about Arsenal players is now complete.  It comes in two parts:

A to K     L to Z

We have around 1500 articles on this site, and a fair number are specifically about individual players who played for Arsenal.  However this is the first time they have been fully indexed.

Of course there are many other sources of articles on Arsenal players but I do like to think that the articles here add a lot more detail, and have often found stories and issues that have been missed in other reports.  I do hope you will give us a try.






9 Replies to “The nine health benefits of playing football, and what to do when you get too old.”

  1. Hi I’m now 68 but played football till mid 40’s,have now been playing walking football for 18 months and it’s brilliant,great exercise & still able to use your old skills,never scored so many goals,our ages range from 50 to the eldest 70.There are hundreds of clubs available around the country,we play in tournaments as well,so it’s competitive,well worth the effort

  2. There is also walking football for those who really can’t run. The website has contact details of all of the 800 or so clubs throughout England. The FA are coming out with an official rule book next month. There’s a club near me so I maw we’ll give it a go. If I do I’ll do a report.

  3. Don’t forget the refereeing option….it fills all of the above 9 benefits nicely, pays you a quid or two and can be very enjoyable, if you know the Laws and the application thereof. i am 70 years old and still officiate indoors in the winter and outdoors in the summer and really enjoy the younger ones. since I began officiating again, after retiring back in 1999, I have found that I kept my weight down, feel better all the time and really avoid any injuries that actually playing the game might involve. I also enjoy the social side of meeting new people and fellow referees, most of whom share a common passion for the game….they also LOVE to talk to a former national referee who officiated Beckbenbauer,Pele and the like.

  4. Tony,
    Having watched properly executed jive on many occasions (mainly due to the jazz music) I would venture to suggest that “jivers” unable to pursue their robust art, might well take up football as a gentle substitute rather than the other way about! 😉

  5. Tony,

    In Arsenal’s case I beg to differ re Point 5. It is incredibly stressful to play with the aaa-s on your back. Just ask Gervinho, Arshavin and Andre Santos.

  6. Thanks , Tony , have started moving. As I am about to hit 60 soon , I have over the last few days re-started exercising by rekindling one of my other passions – gardening.
    I like to think that I do have green fingers and also a plant whisperer or sorts. I once put my hands around a non -fruiting mango tree and told it that it better start doing so , or else …..! Not a threat , mind you – all gentle and slow.
    Well it worked , it now fruits very regularly , but even the unripe fruits have worms in them . Damn ! I’ve just allow the birds and bats to enjoy its bounty .

  7. Never posted here, lurked for a long time but couldn’t miss commenting on this. Am still playing football once a week on astroturf with mostly older players. At 59 I would describe my contribution as effective, because I can’t outpace anyone I have to think more. I know it will have to end one day but I’m playing until I don’t enjoy it

  8. John T

    I knew a player in Edmonton, AB, Canada (originally from somewhere in England) who at age 50, 52, … who regularly outpaced U18 players. Skinny guy.

    While not in the 50’s, I once had a U18 physically challenge me for speed and strength when I was about 40. I beat him on both (I was maybe 240 pounds at the time, leg pressing 1200 in the gym at the time). I will be 57 in the spring.

    I am working on a deck. I have to build double 2×8 beams that are 30-ish feet long (with extra to cut off at some point). I carried (with straps) a 32 foot beam from the front of the house to the back by myself (one stop). My Mom (who is 85 in the spring) gave me heck for not asking her to help me. She has helped me carry 5/8 inch thick, fire rated, drywall sheets in the past.

    There is no (generic) physiological reason why a grandfather (in general) cannot out lift a grandson (teens/early 20’s) at leg press, deadlift or squats. That a grandfather may have spent the preceding 20 years not doing any exercise can influence this.

  9. Good advice! It’s very important to keep active.

    Weight-training is by far the most beneficial activity for the elderly, but its also important to do something for which one has passion.

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