Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Happy, healthy children develop on the playing field

Happy, healthy children develop on the playing field
April 19, 2014

Playing a team sport at an early age can improve the health and wellbeing of children, particularly for young girls according to a study by University of Wollongong (UOW) researchers.

The researchers found that girls who take up a team sport before the age of eight and continue for at least two years are likely to be healthier, have better relationships and do better at school.

The findings came from a two-year longitudinal study by UOW’s Early Start Research Institute (ESRI) of more than 4,000 children aged between eight and 10 found that participation in sports is associated with a greater quality of life during childhood, particularly for girls.

Benefits associated with those who played sport at least once per week for three months during the study period included higher levels of quality of life relating to their psychological, social, emotional and school functioning.

In childhood, low quality of life measures are associated with chronic conditions and diseases such cancer, heart disease and type 1 and 2 diabetes while sports participation in general is linked with better self-esteem, more positive social interactions and a reduction in depressive symptoms in children and adolescents.

The research team, led by Research Fellow Dr Stewart Vella, used data collected in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), a partnership between the Department of Social Services, the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In the LSAC study, children’s parents, usually their mother, completed questionnaires when children were aged eight to nine years, and again 24 months later.

In addition, the height and weight of the child was recorded as well as the using the parents’ postcode as measure of socio-economic position.

The UOW researchers analysed the results across four scales that provided measures of physical, social, emotional and school functioning.

Notably, the benefits were greater for girls than for boys and the benefits gained from sports were only apparent if children start participating early, before age eight, and maintain that participation for at least two years.

Dr Vella explained “for example, if a child was to drop out of sports, benefits to quality of life are lost”, adding that it appeared that the social benefits of sport underpin the extra benefit for girls.

Dr Vella added “girls who participate in sports have higher social functioning than girls who do not participate.

“However, we need to investigate this a little further before we can make firm conclusions about these sex differences and any potential reasons why they appear.”

Dr Vella said the study showed team sports, such as soccer, football, and cricket, are more beneficial than individual sport, adding “there are no differences between team and individual sports in terms of physical health benefits – both are good.

“However, team sports provide greater opportunities for the development of social skills.

“They may also underpin greater social support networks and thereby protect children against psychological problems such as depression.”

Dr Vella said that while the study showed that sport participation had a positive impact on health and quality of life, not all sports were equal, concluding “we need to find out what sporting programs lead to the best outcomes for children and why. This includes the design and implementation of sporting programs, including the type of sport, time in sport, physical activity provided by sport, and parent-involvement.”

UOW’s research Sports Participation and Parent-Reported Health-Related Quality of Life in Children: Longitudinal Associations was published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Click here to view the Abstract.




Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

Smart Connection Consultancy

Smart Connection Consultancy is a boutique sport and recreation consultancy who has become one of Australia’s leading advocates for the use of synthetic sports surfaces as a vehicle to grow…

read more

Consultants / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces



SICO is at the forefront in innovative mobile folding and rolling, space efficient tables, stages, dance floors and many other products which help our customers optimise their use of space. Image…

read more

Entertainment / Events / Venues


WATERPLAY Solutions Corp

Whether your goal is increasing your centre's revenues or creating an engaging environment, why not add play to your project? If you're looking for stylish aquatic play features, kid-tested…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Recreation / Waterparks



NovoFit is an exciting and dynamic new company born from two of Australia’s leading commercial fitness equipment suppliers. NovoFit combines over 45 years of industry expertise, delivering state…

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Sport / Technology / Wellness


Aussie Strength

We are Aussie Strength. The ultimate supplier for Commercial Gym Equipment that's built to deliver in the toughest environments. From USA-Built hardcore weight training equipment from Arsenal…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness



Founded in 1961, Myrtha Pools® quickly became Italy’s première swimming pool company, and has since grown into one of the world's leading swimming pool construction…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Play / Waterparks / Wellness


Summit Fitness

Summit Fitness Equipment is now part of NovoFit - see

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Technology / Wellness



At EventPro Software, we are proudly different from our industry competitors. We have a development-driven culture and 20 years’ experience in event, venue, and catering management software,…

read more

Events / Hospitality / Technology / Ticketing / Venues


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business