Search icon

Fitness & Health

11th Jul 2018

Watching football is good for your health according to dementia expert

This World Cup is just the gift that keeps on giving

Kyle Picknell

You probably won’t feel like it watching England tonight between your fingers

We all like football. It is physically impossible not to like football. Usually if something is this universally, unequivocally good, however, there is usually a downside.

But unlike the other things loved the world over, cheese, alcohol, Jake Gyllenhaal, ‘the footie’ comes with no downsides, other than the occasional pillock jumping through a bus shelter.

Now I think about it, neither does Jake Gyllenhaal to be fair.

Professor Alistair Burns, NHS England’s clinical director for dementia, spoke to the Metro and revealed that “Although fans may not feel it this week, football can be good for your nerves.”

“The beautiful game really can help your mind and body. As well as being great physical exercise, there is a positive link between watching classic football matches and keeping the mind active,” he continued.

“For people in old age and dealing with dementia, re-watching matches can rekindle past memories, connect people with their past and keep the brain active. Johan Cruyff was right when he said that football is a game you play with your mind, and sport of any kind has a unique power to keep the brain going.”

It’s to do with emotional memory, something that can be more powerful than actual, factual memory for certain events. Reliving exciting, nervewracking football matches can trigger that, which in turn is believed to strengthen brain activity.

So why not see if it helps your nerves, rewatching England’s triumph in 1966 in full in the build up to England’s inevitable triumph in 2018? You’ll get Kenneth Wolstenholme’s iconic commentary, Bobby Moore looking all blonde and glorious (remind you of any another England captain?) and Geoff Hurst’s equally iconic goal to bring a smile to your face, a tear your eye, and maybe, just maybe, absolute concrete belief that football is indeed coming home.

Even if you’re not old enough to remember it in the first place, I’d just watch it anyway. I’d definitely just watch it anyway.