21 June 2016

Football Fitness gets more people moving

Increasing the number of physically active adults in Denmark

Nordea-fonden is a Danish commercial foundation that allocates funds from its returns and capital to support non-profit, public and charitable purposes. In 2016, we expect to donate DKK 560 mill. to support activities which promote good living in Denmark. Our focus is on health & nutrition, exercise, culture and nature. Our case is called Football Fitness. Its aim is to get more people moving, especially adults who may never before have played football but just want to get some exercise – for example middle aged men and women. It is a healthy, fun and socially rewarding activity.

The concept Football Fitness was introduced by the Danish Football Association (DFA) and with funding from Nordea-fonden the concept has spread to 300 Danish clubs and about 5,ooo players.

Correlating research and practice

DFA carried out a pilot project called “Football Fitness” from 2011 to 2013. Based on the lessons learnt during the project and on data provided by the Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health, the Football Fitness concept is being further developed to ensure the sustainability of this type of exercise going forward.

Football’s health-related potential has nothing to do with the player’s gender, age, physical fitness or level of skill. Football can be used as an ordinary workout and to prevent lifestyle diseases and can even be included in the treatment of illnesses.

Among Danish municipalities, this has raised awareness of Football Fitness as an alternative for a wide variety of users, such as diabetics or the unemployed.

DFA’s Football Fitness is designed as a 12-week exercise programme where both the intensity and the level of difficulty increase during the process. Generally speaking, Football Fitness includes week-by-week warm-up exercises followed by technical football drills, as well as ball-handling exercises and limited game-playing with one goal. After this, the participants play full-pitch football (i.e. using two goals).

Playing Football for Exercise on flexible terms

Funding from Nordea-fonden is used to implement the Football Fitness concept in Danish football clubs, a concept which gives more adults the opportunity to be physically active.

The aim is to enable DFA to make Football Fitness a nationwide initiative with sufficient funds to support embedding the programme at local level, while also aiming to make the culture of Denmark’s clubs and associations broader and more inclusive.

Nordea-fonden’s support for Football Fitness comprises three activities aimed at target groups who either have no footballing experience or have special needs:

  • Football Fitness for Women: a workout programme which combines aerobic workouts and football exercises
  • Playing Football for Exercise (Men): a workout programme which combines game-playing drills and strength/agility workouts
  • Playing Football for Exercise (specific target groups): in collaboration with CTSH and through partnerships with municipalities, etc.

“It is important to DFA that everyone who is interested has an opportunity to play football. The Football Fitness project, supported by Nordea-fonden, makes it possible for anyone to take part, regardless of his/her level of skill or capacity. A key element of football’s humble role and responsibility in Danish society is to be part of something bigger and improve public health, the sense of community and joy,” according to Jesper Møller, chairman of the Danish Football Association.

Increasing the number of physically active adults

Many people associate football with men and masculinity, but DFA wants to provide an alternative to this that is healthy, fun and socially rewarding. Football Fitness for Women combines workouts with football practice in a manner that requires little footballing experience.

The three activities targeting groups without footballing experience seek to make football a type of exercise rather than a competitive sport. Up to now, their concept and mindset have been very successful, ever since they began under a pilot project in 2011, founded on, among other things, basic research from the Centre for Team Sport and Health, at the University of Copenhagen.

The Centre for Team Sport and Health emphasises football’s unique position as a tremendously efficient and fun way to work out.

“Football Fitness is fun, healthy and socially rewarding. Not only that, the research and lessons learnt from the pilot project have shown without a doubt that the concept is sound and viable and makes a difference to many people. Accordingly, we hope that Nordea-fonden’s support will help get even more adults out onto the pitch to play ball,” says Henrik Lehmann Andersen, Director of Nordea-fonden.

Up until 2017, DFA will use the support from Nordea-fonden to heighten awareness of Football Fitness even more, recruit more clubs and make the programme accessible to even more adults.

Links about Football Fitness





Tine Wickers

Head of Communications, Nordea-fonden