The pre-adoption characteristics of men in a community-based social initiative: who wants a game of ball?

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Abstract

Amidst the growing focus on men’s health, physical activity (PA) initiatives have demonstrated efficacy in engaging men and providing opportunities to enhance wellbeing outcomes. It is important to capture the characteristics of male populations who attend these initiatives as it yields important implications in terms of reach, design and implementation. This paper presents the pre-adoption characteristics of participants at a site of Football Cooperative (FC), a community-based PA initiative in Ireland. The research sought to ascertain whether the participants involved were an at-risk group in terms of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors (i.e. PA levels, waist circumference, aerobic fitness, diet, smoking, alcohol and sleep quality). Recruitment occurred before and during a return to play period, after a lowering of COVID-19 restrictions in May 2021. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit participants. Fitness and anthropometric data were collected, along with self-report survey data including demographics and wellbeing indicators. A total of n = 71 completed the self-report survey and were predominantly white Irish (95.8%) and married (84.6%). The majority (83.1%) of participants had ≥ 3 CVD risk factors where 66.1% had a waist circumference (WC) of ≥ 94 cm, indicating a high mortality risk. This research suggests that the gendered approach employed by the FC initiative engages a target demographic of at-risk males. While this demonstrates promise in terms of tackling CVD risk, further research that focuses on translating the initiative to engage men at risk of social and economic disadvantage is recommended to enhance the impact of the FC approach.

Keywords

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • community-based
  • football
  • men’s health
  • physical activity

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