Characterizing the Metabolic Intensity and Cardiovascular Demands of Walking Football in Southeast Asian Women
Given that the recent rise in obesity rates throughout Southeast Asia is disproportionately driven by women, part of the regional solution may be to encourage more habitual physical activity within this population. Taking advantage of the regional popularity of walking football, this study sought to characterize the
cardiovascular demands and metabolic intensity of Southeast Asian women competing in walking football matches to determine the sports’ suitability for promoting physical health. It was hypothesized that both cardiovascular and metabolic intensity measures (≥65% HR% and ≥3.0 METs, respectively) would meet or exceed established thresholds for improving fitness and health. Methods: Women’s teams from Singapore (Mean±SD: 42±11 yrs age; 29.2±7.0 kg/m2 BMI; n=14) and Malaysia (40±10 yrs age; 32.9±5.7 kg/m2 BMI; n=8) competed in two successive matches within a single day during which measures of heart rate (HR) and GPS (from portable handheld device) were recorded for each player, while relative HR was computed as a percent of each player’s age-predicted maximal HR (HR%, %). The GPS data were later converted to walking distance and metabolic intensity (i.e., metabolic equivalents, or METs). One-sample t-tests at the 0.05 alpha level were used to compare variables to their respective thresholds. Results: Both Malaysian and Singaporean teams had mean relative HRs (91-95% of HRMAX [P=0.008] versus 77-80% of HRMAX [P<0.001], respectively) that exceeded the 65% threshold for improving cardiovascular fitness. Both teams also maintained an average metabolic intensity that was statistically similar to the 3.0 MET threshold that decreases one risk for non-communicable diseases (3.2±0.9 METs [P=0.0510] versus (3.3±1.0 METs [P=0.288], respectively), and both teams walked an average of 2.2-2.4 kms/match. Conclusions: These results support the idea that competitive walking football is of sufficient intensity to promote positive changes in both cardiovascular and metabolic fitness in this population of Southeast Asian women.
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