Slowing the pace of competitive sports

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A new scheme encouraging people to get back into netball at a gentler pace is being piloted in Leeds.

Walking Netball, which is taking place at Airebrough Leisure Centre at 11am on Thursday mornings, is a new walking sport aimed at getting women active.

Nathan Jones, England Netball Community Coach Leeds said: “Walking Netball is a slower version of the game; it is netball, but at a walking pace and has been designed so anyone can play regardless of age or fitness level.”

Walking Netball has 
evolved from a growing demand for walking sports which have seen a boom in popularity over the last few years.

Sports people have enjoyed throughout their lives such as football, rounders, basketball and netball have been adapted to a slower pace so they can still be enjoyed by all.

The idea is to get older and less physically able people together to enjoy competitive team sports without the
high impact or strenuous activity level needed for standard versions of the same games.

Most of the sports have the same rules as standard versions but rather than running to get the ball or get to the next base, team members walk.

The rules usually include having one foot on the ground at all times with many teams running a ‘fine’ or ‘sin bin’ system for anyone who runs instead of walks.

Walking Netball provides an ideal way to start building exercise back into someone’s life.

It can be built up gradually, starting gently with the aim of doing a little more each session.

As people get older and less mobile it is important to keep active as well as having a healthy diet. Regular weight-bearing exercise helps keep bones strong by forcing those in the lower half of the body to bear a person’s full weight each time they move.

England Netball, the national body which oversees, promotes and manages netball in England, has been instrumental in rolling out Walking Netball across the country.

It says the older people who take part in Walking Netball could see many benefits including lower heart rate and blood pressure, weight loss and better muscle tone as well as better mobility.

As well as benefits to older participants, Nathan said it is also aimed at helping all women get active, socialise and enjoy exercise at a gentle pace.

“Women have begun playing for the fun, laughter and camaraderie the social session brings, as much as the health benefits on offer.

It can give those who feel isolated an outlet and provide an activity for those who don’t feel fit enough to run anymore.”