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Landmark research into economic and health benefits of aquatic and recreation facilities

Landmark research into economic and health benefits of aquatic and recreation facilities
May 21, 2014

The results of a landmark industry research project on the Community Benefits of Aquatic and Recreation Centres will be presented at the Aquatic and Recreation Institute’s 50th Annual Conference next week.

Findings of the project will be presented at the ARI Conference by Dr John Tower, Senior Lecturer at Victoria University and Dr Gary Howat of the Centre for Tourism & Leisure Management at the University of South Australia (UniSA).

The project acknowledges that aquatic and recreation centres are important contributors to the wellbeing of many Australians. At a community level they are expected to provide a place for physical activity, social interaction and to make a contribution to the local economy.

Supported by Sport and Recreation Victoria as the major funding partner and project managed by Aquatics and Recreation Victoria on behalf of the Australian Leisure Facilities Association (ALFA), the project is the result of collaboration between Victoria University, UniSA, YMCA Victoria and the City of Greater Geelong, the outcomes of this work have particular implications across a range of operational, marketing, programming and facility design parameters, all of which impact on the quality visitor experience, retention rates and ultimately better community health, social and economic outcomes.

Introducing the project, Dr Howat explained “research on customers from 16 Australian public aquatic and recreation centres (has) highlighted the dominant role of health and fitness benefits.

“The research conducted by CERM PI (a unit within the Centre for Tourism & Leisure Management at the University of South Australia at UniSA) researchers included data from over 4,300 respondents 15 years and over. 

“Achieving improved health and fitness was the most significant benefit from participating in activities at aquatic and recreation centres for most age and activity groups.

“Enjoyment was the second most significant benefit for customers.

The research also identified differences between age and activity groups in respect to participation in physical activity.  For example, older age groups - 50 years and over- placed a high priority on achieving health and fitness benefits, while the most significant constraint limiting activity for older age groups was injury-illness-pain.

“The highest priority for the under 50 years groups also was achieving health and fitness benefits followed by feelings of personal accomplishment including improved skill levels and self-esteem especially for aquatic education and gym/health club respondents.

Achieving success in competition benefits was linked to higher levels of physical activity, especially for younger age groups - below 30 years of age. Physical activity levels for younger age groups were constrained by fear and lack of confidence - fear of participation in physical activity, lack of knowledge and lack of self-confidence, and time was the most influential constraint to physical activity for the 30-49 years group.

Higher levels of physical activity were more likely when respondents felt their motivation to exercise was mainly due to their own choice because they enjoyed the activity - intrinsic motivation), and /or they valued the benefits of the activity.

“Therefore, providing opportunities to achieve improved health and fitness should be a priority of facilities such as public aquatic and recreation centres. Centre operators could more overtly promote the health and fitness benefits of activities at their centres. In turn, operators should ensure that activities provide participants with positive experiences that enhance their achieving desired benefits tailored for activity and age groupings.”

The 50th Annual Conference and Trade Show of the Aquatic and Recreation Institute is being held on 28th and 29th May at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre. 

Click here to visit the ARI's conference page or email: eo@aquaticinstitute.com.au for more information.

22nd April 2014 - REGISTRATIONS OPEN FOR 50TH AQUATIC AND RECREATION INSTITUTE CONFERENCE

29th November 2013 - NSW GOVERNMENT REPORT FINDS STATEWIDE LOSS OF PARKS AND PUBLIC OPEN SPACE

4th September 2013 - AUSTRALIAN BENCHMARKING SURVEY FOR PUBLIC AQUATIC, RECREATION AND SPORT CENTRES


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