Summary of evidence on wellbeing and sporting/cultural activities

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing has a new blog detailing the key findings from NatCen social research, based on linked data from the four waves of Understanding Society surveys of adults and young people that included questions on cultural and sports participation, undertaken between 2010 and 2015.

Key findings

  • Adults who participate in cultural and sports activities tend to have better physical and mental health, higher self-efficacy and higher life satisfaction.
  • Increased engagement in arts activities is linked to better mental health; lapses in arts participation are linked to a relative worsening of mental health and life satisfaction .
  • Taking up weekly sports is linked to better results for physical health and life satisfaction .
  • Young people taking part in sports is linked with better health and wellbeing across all indicators: general health, perceptions of weight, happiness, self-esteem and personal pride .
  • Arts and cultural engagement is linked with higher happiness and self-esteem, though the relationship between cultural engagement and self-esteem was stronger for girls than for boys .
  • Lapses in arts engagement, particularly in reading and dance, are linked to lower levels of happiness .

There was a particularly strong relationship between playing a musical instrument and feelings of personal pride.

Read the full blog here