Game of Life

Sport and recreation are good for you

This statement instinctively feels right. After all, what could be better for you than fresh air, exercise, teamwork, nature, camaraderie?

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But where is the evidence that underpins that feeling? We can claim that physical activity improves health, helps educational attainment and brings communities closer but can we underpin that claim?

The answer lies in these pages.

The Game of Life brings together, for the first time, all of the best evidence to support those gut feelings we have about sport. But it is also even-handed, pointing out where the evidence is patchy or where more research is required.

In many cases, the evidence proves the point outright, in others it points the way towards an answer without establishing it conclusively.

Put together, however, the case for leading a more active lifestyle is compelling – both personally and societally.

Sport and recreation is not a panacea, but as this evidence volubly demonstrates, it can certainly be a significant part of the solution.

This research outlines the evidence that exists which shows how more activity can have huge effects on our society:

  • burning 2000 kcal per week reduces coronary mortality by between a quarter and a third
  • for every 500 kcal of extra energy spent per week your likelihood of type 2 diabetes is 6% less
  • exercise can be as effective as anti-depressants for those with mild clinical depression
  • elderly people with low physical activity levels have more than twice the risk of Alzheimer’s
  • seven out of ten teenagers believe antisocial behaviour occurs because they are bored and while each young offender costs the country £47,000 per year, targeted sport projects can cut reoffending rates dramatically

We need to encourage people to be more active and to be more active from an earlier age. The Government’s current emphasis on youth sport and school club links moves us in the right direction, but too slowly.

Children younger than this target age group should be doing quality sport at school and teachers should be aiming to provide activities every day to engrain good habits.

Sports clubs should be playing an integral role in this provision because of the other social and community benefits the evidence tells us they provide.

And national governing bodies of sport and recreation are in the perfect place to deliver their activities through clubs if the Government ensures that that is their priority.

The Game of Life research is split into the following chapters:

Download the Game of Life report

Download the infographics