A hugely popular sport, football, if you play competitively or just for fun, helps keep you fit and brings you the health benefits of other aerobic activities as well as some strengthening exercises.

It's popular with children and adults alike and can be played in an amateur or professional team or just casually at home in the garden or local park. Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played by 250 million people in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport.

Football is in impact sport which, when played frequently, can be harsh on your joints compared to other non-weight bearing activities like swimming or cycling. Be sure to seek medical advice if you are unsure if football is right for you or if you experience any ongoing pain during or after playing.

If you would prefer a slower version then joining your local walking football group may be the answer.

Health benefits

Football counts towards your recommended amount of aerobic activity and brings benefits including reducing your risk of certain chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. It will help improve your overall cardiovascular health and you should see your endurance increase over time if played frequently.

The combination of running, walking, sprinting and kicking can bring benefits including increased stamina, improved cardiovascular health, reduced body fat, improved muscle strength and tone, increased bone strength and improved coordination.

Playing regular sports is also thought to help improve symptoms of some mental health issues like depression and stress, can lead to increased confidence and self-esteem, and can help to reduce anxiety.

Get started

Football is not an expensive or prohibitive sport. All that is needed is space and a ball. Your local school, gym or leisure centre will most likely have facilities to play football.  

Check your local authority or leisure trust website or contact them directly to find out more details.

You can also find local opportunities to play football on Sportscotland's website.