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Masculine fitness program improves physical activity of European men

February 05, 2019

Gender-sensitized lifestyle programs delivered in professional football clubs have shown promise in increasing physical activity in Europe and could play an important public health role in engaging underserved men, according to a study published February 5 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Sally Wyke of the University of Glasgow, and colleagues. The findings add to previous evidence that suggests engaging men in physical activity through programs that work with existing constructs of masculinity is a promising route for promoting men's health.

Gender-sensitized lifestyle-change programs in a professional sport setting are an exciting development in men's health promotion, with the potential to engage men who are underserved by most programs. One such program, Football Fans in Training (FFIT), has been shown to be effective and cost-effective in delivering long-term weight loss in overweight and obese Scottish football fans. Drawing on the success of FFIT, Wyke and colleagues developed the European Fans in Training (EuroFIT) program to attempt to improve physical activity and sedentary time in male football fans. EuroFIT is a 12-week group-based program delivered by coaches at football clubs in weekly 90-minute sessions. Whereas FFIT introduced physical activity and dietary change for weight loss, EuroFIT focused on increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary time as desirable outcomes in their own right.

The authors conducted a randomized controlled trial that included 1,113 men aged 30-65 years in 15 football clubs in England, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal. Compared to the control group randomly assigned to the waiting list, participants in the EuroFIT program showed improved physical activity (678 additional steps/day) but not sedentary time 12 months after baseline. EuroFIT participants also showed improvements in diet, body weight, indicators of cardiometabolic health, well-being and self-esteem. According to the authors, combining lessons learned from EuroFIT and its predecessor FFIT will allow the further refinement of evidence- and theory-based lifestyle-change programs delivered in professional sports settings.
Research Article


This project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Program for research, technological development, and demonstration under grant agreement number 602170. The Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, receives core funding from the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests:

I have read the journal's policy and the authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: AM is a paid statistical advisor for PLOS Medicine. AM's institution received funding from the European Union FP7 funding programme, covering salaries of staff within the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics who provided statistical and data management support to the study. DJM and DWL work for PAL Technologies Ltd., a manufacturer of the activPAL and SitFIT, and a partner in EuroFIT.


Wyke S, Bunn C, Andersen E, Silva MN, van Nassau F, McSkimming P, et al. (2019) The effect of a programme to improve men's sedentary time and physical activity: The European Fans in Training (EuroFIT) randomised controlled trial. PLoS Med 16(2): e1002736.

Image Credit: Staff Sgt Melanie Hutto, U.S. Air Force

Author Affiliations:

Institute of Health and Wellbeing, College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Department of Coaching and Psychology, Norwegian School of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Human Performance (CIPER), Faculty of Human Kinetics, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Department of Public and Occupational Health, Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Robertson Centre for Biostatistics, Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom
Centre for Public Health Nutrition Research, University of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom
PAL Technologies Ltd., Glasgow, United Kingdom
Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Radboud University Medical Center, Radboud Institute for Health Sciences, Scientific Center for Quality of Healthcare, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
European Healthy Stadia Network CIC Ltd., Liverpool, United Kingdom
Computer and Information Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
KU Leuven, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Leuven, Belgium

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