Downward P.1, Rasciute S.2
1School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, UK,
2School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, UK
Relevance of the research. There have been an increasing number of studies that have analysed the factors associated with well-being and health; and this trend has been evident in both public policy and academic research. Current research has analysed the impact on well-being of individual and socio-economic factors such as ethnicity and levels of education (Shields, Wheatley Price, 2005), age (Blanchﬂower, Oswald, 2008), marital status (Oswald, Powdthavee, 2007), household composition (Stutzer, Frey, 2006), income and income aspirations (Clarke et al., 2005; Bruni, Stanca, 2006) and unemployment and self- employment (Winkelmann, Winkelmann, 1998; Andersson, 2008), among others.
More recently, the impact of sport and physical activity on well-being and health has been investigated (Rasciute, Downward, 2010). Encouraging participation in sports activity is now an important public policy issue, as it is argued that there are benefits in terms of health and well-being to individuals as well as to society through externalities. Sport, as a form of physical activity, can help to reduce the physiological health costs to the individual emanating from obesity, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes, strokes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Moreover, participation in sport can also help to promote psychological benefits by reducing anxiety and depression (Department of Health, 2004; WHO World Health Day, 2002; DCMS/Strategy Unit, 2002; Scully et al., 1999).
Although sports participation and engagement in physical activity has been shown to have a strong age-specific profile (Breuer et al., 2010; Mechling, Netz, 2009), there is a lack of detailed analysis whether the magnitude of this impact is age-specific. Consequently, the objective of this paper is to explore the age-specific effects of sport as physical activity on subjective well-being (SWB) and health in the UK and the aim is to identify if sport, as currently organised in the UK can contribute to the health and well-being of an ageing population
Research method and organisation. The data employed is this analysis draws on the Taking Part Survey, which is commissioned by the Department of Culture Media and Sport and is conducted by TNS BMRB. A linear regression on the subjective well-being of individuals is employed for age group cohorts with SWB included as a dependent variable. Sports participation is captured by two separate variables, indicating any minutes of sport participation in the last four weeks and sports participation of at least a moderate intensity and contributing to meeting World Health Organisation Guidelines (WHO, 2010) over the last four weeks.
Results and discussion. Overall, the results suggest that engagement in sport generally, and that of moderate intensity for health contributes to the SWB of individuals but that significant age-specific differences exist. Sports participation has a statistically significant positive effect on SWB up to about the age of 50, with the effect being stronger for the older cohorts. There is no a statistically significant effect for the older age groups. To further explore the data the interaction between sports participation and age are investigated. Joint significance is detected for the measures of sports participation and the interaction effects with age. The latter has a negative sign.
Conclusions. The results of the analysis suggests that sport as an option for promoting subjective well-being and health for ageing individuals has limitations beyond middle age. The fact that the results also show a negative impact between sport and SWB for less intense activity suggests that this is not necessarily linked to physical capability but maybe more with its context and practice. Further research into this reduction in connection with ageing is needed to better inform policy.