How the Fit Reds project is helping Barnsley men shape up

Fit Reds Programme

Almost 200 Barnsley men have so far taken part in the Fit Reds programme, run by the Barnsley FC Community Sports and Education Trust supported by the BHF’s Hearty Lives funding scheme.

Barnsley has a high incidence of cardiovascular disease, with the average man dying two years earlier than the national average of 78. The eight-week Fit Reds programme targets men over 35, giving them the opportunity to make a positive lifestyle change. Participants have seen huge reductions in their waistlines, blood pressure and weight.

Organizer Lee Thompson says: “We get a lot of word-of-mouth referrals and some of our participants say it has been life-changing.”

One participant, Mark Simpson, says a family history of high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes, and the sad death of a friend at just 46, spurred him to join Fit Reds. “The little voice in my head telling me I needed to get sorted started to shout louder and louder,” he says.

I recently visited my GP and they stopped one of my tablets as my blood pressure has massively improved.

Mike O’Neil, 49, was looking to get fit after being diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

He was drawn to Fit Reds because he loves football but hadn’t played for 15 years due to his weight and poor fitness.

“I turned up and met a good set of lads, mostly my age and all shapes and sizes,” he says. “This immediately put me at ease. We were never judged on our footballing skills and all had different abilities.”

In total, Mike has lost three and a half stone in weight and six inches from his waistline. “I still want to lose a few more pounds, but I now have the confidence, motivation and knowledge to achieve that,” he says. “I recently visited my GP and they stopped one of my tablets as my blood pressure has massively improved.”

The three-year project, which runs until October 2015, will aim to target up to 600 men. They also take part in annual challenges such as half marathons and demanding treks.

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