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The benefits of sport participation and physical activity in schools

Junior football team stacking hands before a match

New research shows sports participation in school is associated with higher levels of wellbeing for young people. It also shows that participation in sport is a significant predictor of self-belief and mental toughness and the continued promotion of school sport throughout a child’s time at school, up to and including during exams, should be encouraged.

The survey of 5,481 young people aged 13-15 was undertaken by Manchester Metropolitan University, on behalf of the Youth Sport Trust (YST) and HMC (The Heads Conference).

Conducted across both state and independent schools, the results showed similar levels of correlation between wellbeing and sports participation in both. The research showed that the wellbeing benefits of sports participation can be gained for all students, regardless of the sector they are educated within.

Participation in sport was identified by using survey data to create a composite score reflecting the number of sports a child had participated in, their involvement in sports at school, and the perceived importance of sport at school.