Barnsley FC take on Cardiovascular Disease

Barnsley FC’s Community Sports & Education Trust has teamed up with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to tackle the high levels of cardiovascular disease in Barnsley.

Men aged 35+ are being offered the chance to play at Oakwell as part of a healthy lifestyles programme, ‘Fit Reds’, which is being funded by the BHF’s Hearty Lives scheme.

Fit Reds is in its third year and was set up to help generate awareness of cardiovascular disease and reduce the high levels of the disease in Barnsley. The programme was developed by Barnsley FC’s Community Sport and Education Trust, Barnsley Health Trainer Service and NHS Barnsley.

Those taking part in the nine-week Fit Reds course benefit from opportunities to meet Barnsley FC players, use the indoor gym and other facilities at Oakwell. They also have the opportunity of participating in diet and nutrition sessions delivered by community health trainers employed by PSS, a national social enterprise health organisation aiming to address health inequalities.

The project continues to build upon its previous successes working towards the ultimate aim of tackling male health inequalities within the Barnsley borough, with statistics suggesting that the average Barnsley man’s life expectancy is 2 years lower than the national average of 78 years.  So far, over 400 men have benefitted from the programme which has resulted in massive reductions in waistlines, blood pressure readings and weight.

Sponsored walks, games with local teams and other motivations, including tickets for Barnsley matches and opportunities to meet the players, have helped to drive the near 100 per cent success rate of the project so far.

Fit Reds is targeted at men over the age of 35 in order to focus on those most at risk of developing cardiovascular disease who may benefit most from the programme.

Participant Phil Sykes, 53, care coordinator for the NHS drug and alcohol treatment services, said: “I joined the Fit Reds programme in 2011, after realising I was overweight with ever-increasing blood pressure.

“The main thing for me was the team spirit of the programme as it made me feel as though we were part of a football team in pre-season.

“Fit Reds has influenced a real change in my lifestyle and I thank the team as it has proven positive results both physically and mentally.”

Fit Reds offers a full checkup to evaluate blood pressure levels, heart rate and diet, which are monitored throughout the programme.

Those taking part also receive regular feedback with targets and goals catered to each individual.

Adam Procter, 40, Senior Buyer at Volker Rail (Railway contractors), has also signed up to the programme.

He said:  “The project needs support, not only financially, but also from the local community.  We can all do something to change our health and Fit Reds is effective in producing results, it has been an inspiration for me.”

Heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer. The BHF is fighting to help people in Barnsley by funding projects like Fit Reds through the Hearty Lives programme.

To help the BHF continue its life saving work in Barnsley, please get involved today. You can support the BHF by donating stock to the BHF shops in Barnsley or by donating your time. If you would like to volunteer with the BHF, contact Fundraising Volunteer Manager Lauren Mallinson on 07714 069126.  For more information about the BHF, visit bhf.org.uk.