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Football fitness programme supporting cardiac patients to run again

A healthy living initiative run by one of the north’s biggest football teams is taking place again, giving cardiac patients in the Inverness area an opportunity to join a free, 13-week programme will include advice and support on physical activity, diet and weight loss.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Trust is once again joining forces with NHS Highland and the University of the Highlands and Islands to offer Football Fans in Training to people who are recovering from heart attacks or surgery.

Football Fans in Training is a national initiative which is already run at many of Scotland’s top football clubs. It had never specifically been offered to cardiac patients until the Community Trust ran the programme in 2021.

Heart disease is recognised as Scotland’s single biggest killer, responsible for nearly 7000 deaths every year. However, medical advances have helped to significantly reduce death rates, with seven out of ten patients now expected to survive a heart attack. As a result, there are around 135,000 survivors in Scotland who require rehabilitation support. While research shows that exercise is the best therapy to prevent repeat heart attacks or cardiac surgery, up to 50% of patients fail to fully engage with physical activity programmes. Programmes such as Football Fans in Training aim to address this issue.

The initial programme was a success with 15 patients completing it. The team are looking forward to welcoming this year’s group.

Craig Masterton, Head of Community at Inverness Caledonian Thistle Community Trust, said: “We had a lot of enthusiasm from those who took part in the programme last year and are looking forward to it starting up again.

“Using the pull of football to ensure we can access and benefit the local community is at the heart of everything we do. We are delighted to have the opportunity again to engage with those who have suffered cardiac events and we are positive we can help influence their recovery with a path back to exercise and health.”

Professor Steve Leslie, Cardiologist and Clinical Lead for Cardiac Rehabilitation at NHS Highland, said: “The opportunity last year for local cardiac patients to take part in this initiative was very much welcomed. Increasing physical activity is a key part of recovery after a cardiac event and football is a fun and sociable way to exercise. I look forward to hear how this year’s group get on.”

Professor Trish Gorely from the university’s department of nursing and midwifery said: “Last year showed that this programme is enjoyable and effective. Those who took part said how much they got out of it and particularly enjoyed the camaraderie. It’s exciting to have another opportunity to help those who have suffered heart attacks or endured other cardiac events to improve their health and wellbeing.”

The latest Football Fans in Training programme will start on: Monday 28 March, 19:00 – 20:30 at the Caledonian Stadium Sports Bar

Anyone who has been referred to cardiac rehabilitation is invited to find out more by contacting Craig Masterton on 07754 609 425 or by emailing

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