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The impact of sport on mental health and social capital in disadvantaged communities

Book Contribution - Book Abstract Conference Contribution

Sport policies in Europe and western countries all over the world are increasingly conscious of the potential factor that sport can play between the physical wellbeing of individuals, the general improvement in their quality of life and the harmonious integration of society (Commission of the European Communities (2007); Coalter (2007) ). Especially reaching out for disadvantaged people experiencing higher thresholds to engage in sports is a major topic (Frisby & Millar, 2002). Although it is generally assumed that sport has a positive relation with physical, mental and social wellbeing . Still many question remain concerning which type or intensity of sport is best to stimulate social capital, which to improve mental wellbeing, are these the same, how do they interact? The main aim of the present study is therefore to examine the relationship between sports participation, mental health and social capital for adults (18-56 years) living in disadvantaged communities. In Flanders, Belgium, nine disadvantaged urban communities were selected based on similarity of socio-demographic and environmental characteristics. Two hundred adults (aged 18-56 years) per community were randomly selected and visited at home to fill out a questionnaire on socio-demographics, sports participation, physical activity, mental health and social capital. A sample of 414 adults participated in the study. Results indicate that the more time people spend practicing sports, the better their mental wellbeing. This is not the case for social capital: being engaged in sports does not automatically generate social capital. However, practicing sports with friends, colleagues, family does have a positive effect on social capital. For EASS 2014 the relationship between sports participation, mental health and social capital will be further elaborated and clarified, with special focus on the implications for policy makers.
Book: EASS 2014, Abstracts
Pages: 64 - 64
Publication year:2014