Going to Sporting Events Boosts Mental and Physical Health

Attending sporting events promotes mental and physical health

MedicalResearch.com interview with:

dr  Helen Keyes PhD, AFBPsS, SFHEAHead of School Psychology & Sport Science Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge

dr keyes

dr Helen Keyes PhD, AFBPsS, SFHEA
Headmaster Psychology & Sports Science
Anglia Ruskin University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background to this study? What types of sporting events?

Answer: The data was collected as part of a major government study examining a range of health and activity policies in the UK population. Our study focused on aspects of well-being—life satisfaction, loneliness, happiness, anxiety, feeling that life is worthwhile—as well as whether participants had attended a live sporting event in the past year. The data collected does not discriminate between different sports – the positive effects we report on well-being are population-wide across a range of sports, from attending a local soccer game to attending elite sporting events.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the key findings?

Answer: The study produced three really interesting findings. We found that participants who had attended a live sporting event in the past year reported feeling less lonely, had greater life satisfaction, and felt that life was worthwhile compared to those who who had not attended live sporting events. In fact, the impact of attending a live sporting event on feeling that life is worthwhile was comparable to the impact of gainful employment. In terms of life satisfaction, the effect of attending a live sporting event is comparable to aging by 20 years (life satisfaction generally increases with age). Loneliness was also reduced among those who attended a live sporting event in the past year, beyond effects that could explain gender, age or income.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Answer: Go to this football game! Attending a live sporting event seems like something important to our well-being — being part of a crowd or community, along with a common purpose. Watching a game is a great boost to our mental and physical health.

MedicalResearch.com: As a result of this study, what recommendations do you have for future research?

Answer: We want to look at the impact on well-being of other non-sports group activities, where people come together in large numbers for a common purpose. A good example could be attending live music events.


Helen Keyes, Sarah Gradidge, Nicola Gibson, Annelie Harvey, Shyanne Roeloffs, Magdalena Zawisza, Suzanna Forwood. Attending live sporting events predicts subjective well-being and reduces loneliness. frontiers in public health, 2023; 10 DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.989706

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