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Football focus

Perhaps in my younger athletic days I might have entertained the idea of a cheeky paneka from this ambitious penalty spot, but nowadays I’m more of a sofa-spectator where team-sports are concerned. Apparently joined by quite a large number of others, it would seem, with some premier league matches topping 4 million TV viewers. That’s fame right there! But what does that have to do with healthcare, let alone eco-friendly mumbo jumbo?

Gather round friends, with your matchday programme tucked under one arm and a half-time Fray Bentos dripping scalding gravy down the other. Modern wellbeing is all about balance. Having lots of different things in your life, ensuring your daily activities (be they employment or otherwise) consist of adequate challenge, stimulation, support, and entertainment. And your knowledgeable GP will insist that activity is important as it keeps your mind and body healthy. Yes folks, it can be very rewarding if you’re working towards a target, say reducing the number of panic attacks you have, achieving a Baywatch six-pack, trying to lose some weight, or indeed attempting to stave off the lottery-rollover-sized Christmas waist-enlargement, at which point we’ll all be harking back to the halcyon days of the mere lockdown bulge. Still, once we can all start walking to the pub again, things will start to get back to normal, won’t they?

Exercise then. That’s the ticket! But until recent years, prescribing exercise was seen as going against the run of play, as it were, with an expectation that most illness and problems could be solved with a pill. Thanks largely to that bastion of outdated social conformism 'Miss Polly', her ailing doll, and the infuriatingly medication-touting doctor. Because in ye olde days, going to see your GP and coming away without a piece of green paper (disclaimer – we are trying to do electronic prescribing now so you’ll rarely be given any green paper; Christmas craft will have to be based on other scraps this year #sorrynotsorry) might have been surprising, and even annoying. I know - gasp.

The fact is, exercise absolutely is a treatment. Don’t try to argue, and please don’t feel fobbed off. Yes there may be barriers, such as time, weather, facilities, shielding, lack of access to lycra, but think creatively and even right now there’s something everyone can do, even in their own living room. Or you could even try one of these local walks and pick up the tempo a little! It ticks a lot of boxes, on a very basic level it's moving around and maybe even socialising, but think more deeply and this could help with all sorts of things like weight loss (and consequently blood sugar reduction for diabetics), lower blood pressure, distraction for OCD, reduction of baseline adrenaline levels in anxiety, release of endorphins in depression, not to mention buns of steel if you really want to go hell for leather (ahem).

Today I had a nice chat with York City FC Foundation, who are running some fantastic free all-age walking football sessions for people who can’t run, but can walk. Yours truly is going to have a little taster in a few weeks once lockdown is over with a capital O. They also do a 5-a-side session for more physically able folks. And for people who are housebound or have severe mobility difficulties, there’s a ‘sporting memories’ session to chat about sports with like-minded people. Online, or on the doorstep! So if you know someone who might be interested then please encourage them to ring their friendly GP and we can make a referral. And unlike much of the cobweb-adorned NHS waiting-list, (thank you Boris and chums) York City FC Foundation could get you set up on a football session within a few weeks. You can find out more here and on twitter (@YCFCFoundation) and Facebook. Cool huh?

Now I may have hit the woodwork here if football isn’t really your thing. If you’d rather have a gourmet côte de boeuf with a light port jus than a unidentifiable-meat-of-questionable-origin pie and pint, allow me to direct you to something less physically active and more intricate. Still sociable, in an online way, and incredibly stimulating for your brain, perhaps an online tea and crafting group, or a self-isolation wine tasting (Aussie style – from the University of Adelaide, yeah!) to stimulate your inner oenophile (that's 'lover of wine' - yes way)? Sign me up to both please!

Only 3 weeks of lockdown to go - that's something to be cheerful about right? And if you do get referred to York City FC Foundation, remember to wear a mask because footballers dribble all over the pitch...

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