Going to Sporting Events Boosts 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
Head of School  Psychology & Sport Science
Anglia Ruskin University

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

Response: The data were collected as part of a large government study looking at a range of measures on health and activities across the UK population. Our study honed in on aspects of wellbeing – life satisfaction, loneliness, happiness, anxiety, a sense that life is worthwhile – as well as whether participants had attended a live sporting event in the last year. The data collected did not differentiate between different types of sport – the positive effects that we report for wellbeing are population-wide across a whole range of sports, from attending a local football match all the way up to elite sporting events.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response:  Three really interesting findings emerged from the study. We found that participants who had attended a live sporting event in the last year reported feeling less lonely, having greater life satisfaction and having a greater sense that life is worthwhile, compared with people who hadn’t attended any live sporting events. Indeed, the effects of attending a live sport event on a person’s sense that life is worthwhile were comparable to the effect of being in employment. In terms of life satisfaction, the effect of attending a live sporting event is comparable to ageing by 20 years (life satisfaction generally rises with age). Loneliness was also reduced in those that attended a live sporting event in the past year, above and beyond the effects that gender, age or income could explain.

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

Response: Go to that football match! Attending a live sporting event seems to tap into something important for our wellbeing – being part of a crowd or community, together with a common purpose. Getting out to watch a match is a great boost for our mental and physical health.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a results of this study?

Response: We would like to look at the wellbeing effects of other, non-sport, group activities, where people come together in numbers for a common purpose. A good example might be going to live music events.


Helen Keyes, Sarah Gradidge, Nicola Gibson, Annelie Harvey, Shyanne Roeloffs, Magdalena Zawisza, Suzanna Forwood. Attending live sporting events predicts subjective wellbeing and reduces loneliness. Frontiers in Public Health, 2023; 10 DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.989706

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Last Updated on March 20, 2023 by Marie Benz