New scientific research from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) has found that attending live sporting events improves levels of well-being and reduces feelings of loneliness.
Published in the journal Frontiers in public healthThe research is the first large-scale study to examine the benefits of attending any type of live sporting event.
The study was conducted by academics at ARU School of Psychology and Sport Scienceused data from 7,209 adults, ages 16 to 85, living in England who took part in Perform a partial surveyCommissioned by the Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
It found that attending live sporting events led to higher scores on two key measures of subjective well-being — satisfaction with life and a sense that “life was worthwhile” — as well as lower levels of loneliness.
These findings are important as previous studies have shown that higher life satisfaction scores are associated with fewer life-limiting conditions, better physical health, aging success, and lower mortality rates.
Lead author Dr. Helen Keyes, chair of the School of Psychology and Sport Sciences at ARU, told L.L.C Cambridge Independent: “I think it was really interesting because there wasn’t a small-scale study where we just went and collected some data ourselves – which is usually very limited – it was actually part of a government-wide data collection campaign where they collected data on everything across set of metrics.
“Some of the questions they asked were about whether people attended any live sporting events, as well as things like their gender and their socioeconomic status, whether they were working – all of these things that we think might feed into measures of well-being, loneliness and general happiness in the population.
“So we were able to take advantage of this because the government made this data available for any researcher to access, so we really refined our research question, which was about attendance at live sporting events.”
Dr. Keyes notes that the results did not identify differences between different sporting events. “We found that they did not distinguish between, for example, attending a football match or attending a cricket match or a snooker tournament,” she says, “It was generally any attendance at a live sporting event – so you don’t watch on TV but attending as a spectator had a direct impact on luxury.
“And three really interesting things stood out to me. They were that the effect on people feeling that their lives were worthwhile and that attending live sporting events had a greater impact than whether or not a person worked – that’s a huge effect! You can imagine that effect Working or not working will depend on your sense that life is worthwhile…
“The other interesting thing is your sense of overall life satisfaction, this was a significant effect but it was similar to the effect of your age. In general, the older you become, the more satisfied you are with your life, and the effect of attending a live sporting event is about as big as about 20 years of old age, which is Really important.
“The last thing I found really interesting, and perhaps really counterintuitive, is that our study was one of the first to look at loneliness and the impact of attending live sporting events. So as you might imagine, just being part of that audience — whatever the sport, whether Win or lose your team – being part of a common goal along with a crowd had a really nice effect in reducing loneliness.”
[Read more: Faculty of Science and Engineering at Anglia Ruskin University to host 2023 Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards]
The full open access study published in the journal Frontiers in public healthavailable at frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2022.989706.
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