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Physical Activity and Sport is a good wellbeing investment – and we can prove it

Physical Activity and Sport is a good wellbeing investment – and we can prove it

Have you ever wondered how much benefit physical activity and sport has? Or how we quantify the impact it has on society? Perhaps you’ve questioned if all efforts made to support people’s wellbeing through being active is truly worth it?

If you have, you’ll probably have asked yourself where to possibly start to find this information. We did too, which led to us working alongside Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre to conduct an analysis into the Social Return on Investment for physical activity and sport. The results? Just the proof we were looking for.

At a headline level, we found that every £1 of time or cash invested into physical activity and sport in London, it creates a social value of £1.48. Impressive enough – but below the headlines, it shows a range of real life impacts on the physical and mental wellbeing of Londoners.

And those impacts – they’re truly vast. In the year of data analysed, participation in physical activity and sport was estimated to avert:

  • 36,160 cases of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • 16,696 cases of Type 2 diabetes
  • 413 cases of breast cancer
  • 194 cases of colon cancer
  • 3,788 cases of dementia

Regular participation in physical activity also led to:

  • 67,583 fewer people experiencing clinical depression
  • Over 3.5m fewer visits to GPs
  • Over 3.5m fewer instances of accessing mental health services

The savings created by averting these conditions and the reduction in demand for GP and mental health services through leading physically active lives totalled an estimated £499.2m.

And that’s just the start; the value of people simply feeling improved subjective wellbeing is astonishing:

  • The social value generated by improvements in subjective wellbeing and general life satisfaction accounts for over half of all social value generated by physical activity and sport
  • The value participants gain from higher subjective wellbeing is estimated to be £3.42bn
  • For sports volunteering, the gains from higher subjective wellbeing are estimated to be £2.4bn
  • At an individual level, sports participation creates average improvements to subjective wellbeing equivalent to a value of £1,161. For the sports volunteer this subjective wellbeing improvement is the equivalent of £2,428

But really, the most encouraging aspect is that this research doesn’t really change what we knew already. Yes, it provides the evidence – and, yes, it helps to understand the breadth of impacts that being active has. But ultimately, the biggest benefit is this: that through this research, we can move forward with renewed confidence. Increasing people’s levels of physical activity has a positive impact on their lives; investing in people’s wellbeing through sport is a good investment. And now, we can prove it.

See the full Good Investments: Sport, Physical Activity and Social Value at londonsportsroi.org

London Sport and Westfield Health are working together over the next three years to tackle inactivity in London’s workplaces, and improve workplace wellbeing. Find out more.

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