Title

What about sport? A public health perspective on leisure-time physical activity

Abstract

In an effort to determine how sport could be better positioned on the public health agenda, three community physical activity programs aimed at combating obesity were examined to determine the benefits residents seek through their participation. Using a case study approach and critical framework, assumptions and presumed knowledge of these public health programs were drawn out through site visits and interviews. A total of 42 interviews with community leaders, program organizers, and residents in each community were conducted. The results reveal that new approaches need to be considered for promoting greater levels of participation in U.S. community sport and other leisure-time physical activity programs. Instead of the commonly emphasized benefits of physical health or appearance, the results demonstrate that hedonic rewards and opportunities for social interaction are two overlooked, yet primary benefits sought by participants. This research suggests that concerted efforts to focus on the hedonic feelings and social aspects can potentially lead to increased sport participation and holistic health. Such an approach may help better address vital public health policy issues while demonstrating the distinctiveness and utility of sport.

Publication Title

Sport Management Review

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