A new health and wellbeing programme supported by past and present Rugby League stars has been launched to encourage men to start enjoying exercise again.
‘Back Onside’, from the charity Rugby League Cares, will be delivered at 11 clubs by current and former professional players who will work with participants to build strength, stamina and fitness in a fun and friendly environment.
The programme is part of a National Lottery-funded Sport England initiative to target physical inactivity amongst economically disadvantaged groups.
Men who sign up to ‘Back Onside’ will be involved in 10 weekly fixtures lasting 60 to 90 minutes each that focus on multi-sports activities, including rugby and football, as well as team-building exercises.
Most of the fixtures will take place at Rugby League stadiums and are open to men of any fitness level.
Chris Rostron, the Head of Rugby League Cares, said: “Back Onside is a brilliant way for men to rediscover the benefits of exercise in a safe and familiar environment, and with expert help from experienced Rugby League professionals.
“We all lead busy lives with work and family commitments and it’s often the case that men struggle to find the time or the inclination to exercise regularly.
“Once you stop doing something you enjoy, it can be hard to find the motivation to start again, which leads to many men missing out on the health benefits that come from being active.
“Back Onside aims to tackle that trend and provide men with the opportunity to work alongside current and retired Rugby League players in fixtures that combine exercise and activities with fun and banter.”
Back Onside is primarily aimed at men aged between 35 and 64 but fixtures are open to all ages, and are free.
Rugby League Cares is working alongside the charitable foundations at Hull FC, Hull Kingston Rovers, Castleford Tigers, Wakefield Trinity, Featherstone Rovers, Leeds Rhinos, Bradford Bulls, Halifax, Rochdale Hornets, St Helens and Wigan Warriors.
Sport England research shows that a third of people in lower paid and routine jobs, are inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of exercise that gets them slightly out of breath each week. And inactivity in people in lower paid, routine jobs is twice that of people on a high income in senior and managerial roles.
Sport England Executive Director, Mike Diaper, said: “Rugby League has a strong track record of working with their local communities and we’re very excited by how this project will make a positive difference to people’s lives.
“We know that people on a low income can face many practical and emotional challenges that make it difficult for them to be as active as they would like to be. So we’re working with community-focused organisations across the country to find ways to help people fit physical activity and sport into their lives in ways that work for them.
“The lessons we learn from this local project will really help to shape our work with similar groups across the country.”