MEN who are at risk of developing potentially fatal heart conditions are being offered the chance to play at their local football club as a way of encouraging them to take more exercise.
The British Heart Foundation said Barnsley had a high level of cardiovascular disease, with men in the town dying two years earlier than the national average.
The charity said the Fit Reds scheme had been developed with Barnsley Football Club for men aged 35 and over, who are most at risk of developing heart problems.
So far, more than 180 men have benefited from the programme which the charity said had led to “massive reductions in waistlines, blood pressure readings and weight”.
Participants are offered motivation including tickets for Barnsley matches and opportunities to meet the players to keep them interested and engaged with the scheme.
NHS worker Phil Sykes, 53, said: “I joined the Fit Reds programme in 2011, after realising I was overweight with ever-increasing blood pressure.
“The main thing for me was the team spirit of the programme as it made me feel as though we were part of a football team in pre-season.
“Fit Reds has influenced a real change in my lifestyle and I thank the team as it has proven positive in its results both physically and mentally.”