Is sport good for us? Probing the sport and health nexus

Katarina Sjögren Forss
Malmö University


Daniel Parnell & Peter Krustrup (red)
Sport and Health: Exploring the Current State of Play
256 pages, hardcover.
Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge 2018 (ICSSPE Perspectives)
ISBN 978-1-138-29022-8

This edited volume by Daniel Parnell and Peter Krustrup comprises 12 chapters by a number of authors from Europe, United States and Australia, and gives the reader in depth awareness of the sport and health relationship as well as new insights into a field of research which has important implications for public health.

The collection of chapters provides the reader with a wide range of contributions from various disciplines on central subjects concerning sport and health. The book is divided into four themes: “Sport participation and health, the evidence”; “Sport and health across the lifespan”; “Political, social and psychological dimensions of sport and health”; and a fourth theme highlighting “Unique questions to the sport and health debate”. The first theme consists of one chapter in which the author, Richard Bailey, asks the question “Is sport good for us?” and whether sport can play a role as part of the physical activity agenda. The focus is children and young people. Bailey concludes that sport can play a significant role in helping young people reach recommended physical activity levels; however, the effect sport has on physical activity later in life is more unclear. Further research is needed to in order understand the mechanisms for why sport does or does not affect physical activity engagement during childhood and in later life.

In the second theme, in which focus is on sport and health across the lifespan, one of the authors, Tara Coppinger, continues the theme sport, health and physical activity in children. Coppinger conclude that even if the importance of regular physical activity in childhood for promoting lifelong health and well-being is well-known, children globally do not reach the recommended guidelines for physical activity. In the health promoting work to get children to become more physically active, sport, in the context of physical activity, has the potential to help. Thus, there is a need for more partnerships and collaborations, for example between governments, sporting organisations and health agencies, that can promote physical activity among children on different levels and fields.

Also in the second theme, Ed Cope focuses physical activity from the children’s perspective and positions physical activity and sport in a child-friendly context. Cope argues for the importance of stimulating and motivating children’s play, led by themselves, as one way of promoting physical activity through play-like activities. Cope also calls for research methods that eliminate the power imbalance between child and researcher in a way as to permit children more authentically to explain their experiences about physical activity and sport. Methods used in many studies about children and physical activity are not the most appropriate to capture the full experience of the child. The second theme also contains a chapter about physical activity and public health from older adults’ perspectives, and is written by Andy Pringle and Stephen Zwolinsky. The chapter highlight the importance of developing and implementing interventions designed to meet the needs of physical activity among older adults, and the authors present a number of guiding principles and frameworks that can be helpful in this work.

When appropriately organised, participation in team sports can offer more psychological benefits as well as motivation compared to physical activity performed individually.

The third theme consists of four-chapters. In the first, written by Søren Bennike, Lone Friis Thing and Laila Ottesen, the authors reflect on health promoting work through state supported voluntary sport clubs that play an important role in the sport sector. The authors conclude that today there is a pressure on sports organisations and sports clubs to transform themselves to be able to contribute to tackle the state’s health-related challenges, and consequently the link between public health and sport clubs will be even stronger in the future.

In the following chapter, the authors Johan M. Wikman. Peter Elsborg and Knud Ryom explore the psychological benefits of team sport in relation to physical activity in general. The authors conclude that team sport participation should be seen and used as a way to increase physical activity to a larger extent than it is today. When appropriately organised, participation in team sports can offer more psychological benefits as well as motivation compared to physical activity performed individually.

Theme three continues with a chapter about mental health, physical activity and sport by Simon Rosenbaum, Davy Vancampfort, Oscar Lederman and Brendon Stubbs. The authors summarize evidence of physical activity as an adjunct form of medicine and an important factor to promote mental health and well-being among the healthy population, as well as a component of treatment among people suffering from mental illness.

The last chapter in the theme is written by Bob Snape and Kathryn Curran and discausses sport, physical activity and public health policy, mostly from on a British perspective. The authors state the importance that the government both raises the status of physical activity policy, and also creates a public health-based framework to promote physical activity for the whole population.

Also the fourth theme of the book consist of four chapters. In the first, the authors Shawn M. Arent and Alan J. Walker discuss sport and health from the perspective of elite sport and the positive and negative aspects that participation may have on long-term health. In the light of this, they consider how organisations, teams, managers and medical staff together can work towards creating a safer environment for those performing elite sports, by helping them understand the consequences their performance might have on their health.

In the next chapter, Peter Krustrup and Morten Bredsgaard Randers discuss sport and health from the perspective of prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases that are by far the leading cause of death in the world, and where physical activity is a cornerstone in both prevention and treatment. Keith D. Parry, David Rowe, Emma S. George and Timothy J. Hall are the authors of the third chapter, dealing with health sports consumption and the opportunity sporting stadiums have to promote healthy lifestyles by offering healthy food instead of beer and pies.

Finally, the last chapter by Daniel Parnell, Kathryn Curran and Matthew Philpott provides insight into a settings-based approach to health promotion and an overview of the work of the European Healthy Stadia Network. Sport venues can provide public health interventions both during match days and non-match days and offer a platform to inform policy makers and promote good practice.

In my opinion Sport and Health: Exploring the Current State of Playis a welcome and important contribution in the field of sport and public health as it in different ways examines evidence for sport as an efficacious public health policy tool. The book, which brings together research from a variety of disciplines, gives the reader a wide-ranging overview of the health effects of sport and will be of interest for all with an interest in the sociology of sport, physical activity and public health.

Copyright © Katarina Sjögren Forss 2018

 

Table of Content

Introduction
Daniel Parnell and Peter Krustrup

  1. Is sport good for us? Understanding youth sport as a public health setting
    Richard Bailey
  2. Sport, health and PA in children
    Tara Coppinger
  3. Positioning physical activity and sport in a child-friendly manner
    Ed Cope
  4. Older adults, physical activity and public health
    Andy Pringle and Stephen Zwolinsky
  5. Health through state supported voluntary sport clubs
    Søren Bennike, Lone Friis Thing and Laila Ottesen
  6. Psychological benefits of team sport
    Johan Wikman, Peter Elsborg and Knud Ryom
  7. Mental health, physical activity and sport
    Simon Rosenbaum, Davy Vancampfort, Oscar Lederman and Brendon Stubbs
  8. Sport, physical activity and public health policy
    Bob Snape and Kathryn Curran
  9. Sport and health: The unique challenge of elite sport
    Shawn M. Arent and Alan J. Walker
  10. Sport and health: The prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases
    Peter Krustrup and Morten Bredsgaard Randers
  11. Healthy sport consumption: Moving away from pies and beer
    Keith D. Parry, David Rowe, Emma S. George and Timothy J. Hall
  12. Healthy stadia: A settings based approach to health promotion
    Daniel Parnell, Kathryn Curran and Matthew Philpott
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