Social and physical influences of sports and exercise

Image source:

Since the beginning of time sport has had a great importance. It is good for health and fitness, it is great fun and pastime and is great for learning how to win and dealing with the loss. Many factors influence sports activities and the study of them has gone to such an extent that today there is even a branch of sociology studying sports.

Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. Sport may be competitive, where a winner or winners can be identified by objective means, and may require a degree of skill, especially at higher levels. Hundreds of sports exist, including those for a single participant, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. Some non-physical activities, such as board games and card games are sometimes referred to as sports, but a sport is generally recognised as being based in physical athleticism. [1]

Promoting physical activity is a public health priority, and changes in the environmental contexts of adults’ activity choices are believed to be crucial. However, of the factors associated with physical activity, environmental influences are among the least understood.
Method: Using journal scans and computerized literature database searches, we identified 19 quantitative studies that assessed the relationships with physical activity behavior of perceived and objectively determined physical environment attributes. Findings were categorized into those examining five categories: accessibility of facilities, opportunities for activity, weather, safety, and aesthetic attributes.
Results: Accessibility, opportunities, and aesthetic attributes had significant associations with physical activity. Weather and safety showed less-strong relationships. Where studies pooled different categories to create composite variables, the associations were less likely to be statistically significant.
Conclusions: Physical environment factors have consistent associations with physical activity behavior. Further development of ecologic and environmental models, together with behavior-specific and context-specific measurement strategies, should help in further understanding of these associations. Prospective studies are required to identify possible causal relationships. [2]

Image source:

Results of the studies continue to support a growing literature suggesting that exercise, physical activity and physical-activity interventions have beneficial effects across several physical and mental-health outcomes. Generally, participants engaging in regular physical activity display more desirable health outcomes across a variety of physical conditions. Similarly, participants in randomized clinical trials of physical-activity interventions show better health outcomes, including better general and health-related quality of life, better functional capacity and better mood states.
The studies have several implications for clinical practice and research. Most work suggests that exercise and physical activity are associated with better quality of life and health outcomes. Therefore, assessment and promotion of exercise and physical activity may be beneficial in achieving desired benefits across several populations. Several limitations were noted, particularly in research involving randomized clinical trials. These trials tend to involve limited sample sizes with short follow-up periods, thus limiting the clinical implications of the benefits associated with physical activity. [3]

Little is known about possible determinants of children’s participation in physical activity. In particular, the role of adults has not been clearly identified. This study investigated contemporary social cognitive variables, in combination with likely adult influence factors, in predicting intended and self reported vigorous physical activity for young adolescents. A questionnaire was administered to 147 boys and girls ages 13–14. Questions assessed physical activity levels, including vigorous activity, intention to take part in sports or vigorous physical activity, social cognitive variables, and adult encouragement of physical activity. A structural equation modeling analysis showed a good fit for a model in which vigorous physical activity was predicted by direct paths from adult encouragement and intention, with adult encouragement also predicting vigorous activity indirectly through perceived competence. Intention itself was predicted by adult encouragement and a task achievement goal orientation. [4]

Mental disorders are of major public health significance. It has been claimed that vigorous physical activity has positive effects on mental health in both clinical and nonclinical populations. This paper reviews the evidence for this claim and provides recommendations for future studies. The strongest evidence suggests that physical activity and exercise probably alleviate some symptoms associated with mild to moderate depression. The evidence also suggests that physical activity and exercise might provide a beneficial adjunct for alcoholism and substance abuse programs; improve self-image, social skills, and cognitive functioning; reduce the symptoms of anxiety; and alter aspects of coronary-prone (Type A) behavior and physiological response to stresses. The effects of physical activity and exercise on mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, and other aspects of mental health are not known. Negative psychological effects from exercise have also been reported. Recommendations for further research on the effects of physical activity and exercise on mental health are made.[5]


The significance of sport is great. Not only that it effects our physical well-being but our state of mind as well. Various things effect how we experience sports activities however their benefits mustn’t be forgotten and neglected.


[2] ‘Environmental factors associated with adults’ participation in physical activity’ by Nancy Humpel BPsyc, Neville Owen PhD and Eva Leslie MHN
[3] ‘Exercise and well-being: a review of mental and physical health benefits associated with physical activity’ by Penedo, Frank Ja; Dahn, Jason Ra,b
[4] J Sch Health. 1996;66(2):75–78
[5] ‘The relation of physical activity and exercise to mental health’ by C B Taylor, J F Sallis, and R Needle