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Academics get football fans fit

A multi-million pound project has been launched to help male football fans across Europe become more active and less sedentary.

The £5 million project, called EuroFIT, will attract men to lifestyle change through a combination of new technology and tapping into the personal connection and loyalty to the team they support.

Groups of football fans will be encouraged to take part in a tailored fitness and lifestyle programme with their own football club, receiving tips about how to boost their exercise, sit down less and improve their diets.

New technology

The University of Edinburgh is one of 11 institutions involved in EuroFIT and will advise on pedometer-based walking programmes.

Academics will also explore how a new SitFIT device, being developed by Glasgow-based PAL Technologies Ltd, has an impact on football fans’ health. The technology monitors how long someone spends sitting.

The SitFIT device could help the football fans in understanding that sitting down too much might present a new health challenge, even if they manage to be active in other ways.We know that pedometers, which provide feedback about walking, provide motivation to increase steps and achieve targets. We will test whether or not the SitFIT can operate in the same way to provide feedback and motivation to reduce sitting down time.
Professor Nanette MutrieDirector of the University of Edinburgh's Physical Activity for Health Research Centre

Successful Scottish model

EuroFIT is building on the successful Football Fans in Training model which has run for three seasons in Scotland. The model seeks to encourage healthy weight loss and fitness that can be sustained over the long term.

In the 2010-11 season alone, 412 men shed 2300kg of weight and lost 2400 cm from their collective waist measurements. In Scotland, the programme is run in partnership with the Scottish Professional Football League.

Wide support

EuroFIT is funded by the EU’s Framework Programme seven. It is supported by several leading professional football clubs including Arsenal, Benfica and FC Porto.

The full partners in the EuroFIT programme are University of Glasgow UK (Programme Co-ordinators); PAL Technologies Ltd, UK; European Healthy Stadia Network CIC Ltd, UK; Stichting VU-VUMC, Netherlands; Stichting Katholieke Universitet, Netherlands; Norges Idrettshogskole, Norway; Universidad Tecnica de Lisboa, Portugal; Pintail Ltd, Ireland; University of Aberdeen; University of Edinburgh; and University of Dundee, UK.