March 2017 Update

In this edition of the ASGA Update you’ll find articles about:


Euro Commission Logo   

Why sport is so important for education

According to a recent article on the European Commission’s website, sport and education often stand in stark opposition to each other.  One is trivial, the other serious.  One is about play, the other about work. For many parents, sport and other organised forms of physical activity ought to take a more and more marginal position within education as their children get older in order to let them focus on the ‘real business’ of school, which is to help them go on vocational training, higher education, or to work.

Over time, these attitudes have started to change, although change has sometimes been painfully slow. The emergence of the so-called ‘physical inactivity pandemic’ has clearly played a role in sport’s changing fortunes.

Sport, as the most popular, palatable form of physical activity for many people, has moved towards the centre of public health policy and practice, as cheap medicine.  At the same time, there has been an acknowledgement of the significant financial contribution that sport, in its different forms, makes.

To read more about why sport is so important for education, please click through to the article on the European Commission’s website.


MediLine Plus Logo   

Physical activity can lower depression rates

According to a new study, discussed in an article by Robert Preidt on Medline Plus, physical activity may lower children’s risk of depression.

The researchers of the study assessed about 700 children at ages 6, 8 and 10. Kids who got regular moderate-to-vigorous exercise were less likely to develop depression over those four years, the investigators found.

Previous studies have found that physically active teens and adults seem to have a lower risk of depression. This new study is the first time this has been suggested in children, according to researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

You can read the article on the Medline Plus website.


Vicsport logo   

Popular sports shouldn’t get all the attention

The Chairman of Vicsport, Victoria’s peak sports body, recently said it was important to build on the development of women’s achievements in football, cricket, soccer and netball to lift participation and recognition of women in all sports.

In a media release on the Vicsport website, chairman of Vicsport, Margot Foster AM, herself an Olympic bronze medallist in rowing, said the growth of opportunities for women to play traditionally male sports has provided a major boost in publicity and awareness of opportunities emerging in an increasing number of sports for women.

“In early 2017, the success of the women’s competitions in footy, cricket, soccer and netball has been truly remarkable.”

Ms Foster said the focus on the women who play these sports needs to be matched for all the other women and girls who participate in sports of their choice from rowing to running, from ten pin bowling to taekwondo, from baseball to basketball and from swimming to squash – and every sport in between.

The success of the women playing sport, whether high or low profile, provides aspiring girls and women with shining examples of what they could be and what they might aspire to be or do.

To read the full media release please visit the Vicsport website.



UK Rugby Players’ Association tackles mental health issues

As part of its commitment to player welfare, the UK Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) recently launched #LiftTheWeight, a new campaign that aims to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues and offer the necessary tools and support to enable our members to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life, both on the field and off it.

According to a media release on the RPA website, one in four people in the UK will be affected by mental illness in any year, with the most common issues being depression and anxiety. Often the pressures and strains that can act as a catalyst to mental health issues are magnified for professional sports people. Despite a number of high-profile elite athletes speaking out about their own struggles with mental health, the stigma around these issues remains.

Following a previous RPA campaign involving Duncan Bell, there was more than a 130% increase in the number of players contacting our confidential counselling service. In 2016, more players contacted the service than ever before.

For more information about the #LiftTheWeight please read the RPA’s media release.


New Statesman Logo   

Is ‘inspiration’ hindering participation?

An opinion piece in the New Statesman by David Goldblatt suggests sport’s obsession with being “inspirational” is a hindrance to public-health interventions, not a help.

According to the article, “We need to be cajoling, entreating, even tricking people into activity… We need to ask people to dance and invite them to play. It is clear enough from (countries comparable to the UK) such as Finland and Denmark that the precondition for an active and healthy nation is getting more people moving about by walking, cycling and, where conditions allow, skateboarding, skiing and skating. For a fraction of the cost of the HS2 rail link and, I suspect, with much greater social and economic benefits, we could make a significant start on this.”

“Our priorities need to shift in other ways, too. Children should continue to be an important concern, but the sports industry’s fetishisation of youth must be countered by an equal concern with getting the disabled and the elderly to be more active. Indeed, there may be bigger health gains to be made here for each pound spent. Given current trends, informal running, swimming and gym use will account overwhelmingly for our calorie-burning. But are we building and maintaining the infrastructure that makes this type of exercise possible, and offering prices that make it affordable?”

To read more about how sport could do with a little less inspiration and a little more practicality, please read the article on the New Statesman website.


The Guardian Logo   

Fitness trackers and apps causing harm?

According to an article in The Guardian by Hannah Devlin, researchers are warning that fitness trackers and mental health apps could be doing more harm than good because they are not based on sound science…

Greg Hager, professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University, said that in the absence of trials or scientific grounding it was impossible to say whether apps were having the intended effect…

However, others suggested that the fears had been overblown.

Prof John Jakicic, of the University of Pittsburgh, whose team last year found that fitness trackers did not help people lose weight, said: “We need to be careful about relying solely on these devices. However, there is a place for these, and so we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, in my opinion.”

To read the article please visit The Guardian website.


World Economic Forum   

How to grow old like an athlete

An article on the World Economic Forum website discusses how to maximise ‘health span’ – the period of life during which we are generally healthy and free from serious disease.

Physical inactivity is a primary cause of many of the chronic ailments which afflict an ageing population, but the high levels of physical activity among masters athletes mean that they should be free from many of the negative effects of sedentary behaviour. Any declines in athletic performance mirror the changes in the body and mind that occur as we age, rather than being a result of inactivity or other intervening lifestyle factors.

The findings among masters athletes reflect the aim that many of us have: maximise ‘health span’ by reaching a peak, then maintaining our health, physical and cognitive capacities for as long as we can, compressing ill health into as short a period as possible.

To read more about improving your ‘health span’ please read the article on the World Economic Forum’s website.


Womens SportsNet Logo   

Getting more women into golf

An article on Women’s SportsNet talks about how, in spite of the UK playing host to an approximate 3,000 golf courses and clubs, where 678,372 people take to the green, only 14 per cent are women.

If you take Germany as an opposing example; 35 per cent of their 639,137 recorded golfing members are female, and the sport continues to grow rapidly in appeal. Elsewhere Austria (35 per cent), Switzerland (33 per cent), Slovenia (32 per cent) and the Netherlands (32 per cent) follow suit – surpassing the UK’s feeble female count with ease.

Organisations are working hard to increase female participation in golf, such as the Golf for Girls campaign set up by Hays Recruitment and #ThisGirlGolfs – a campaign inspired by Sport England’s #ThisGirlCan campaign that aims to breakthrough stereotypes; to show the world that golf is a game for all. We also need to educate course owners and staff on how better to encourage and support female players, to remove animosity and to normalise the appearance of women on the green; it’s paramount.

A positive sign that we’re on the right track comes from the County Golf Partnership (CGP) who have reported that 54,000 people were inspired to get into golf in summer 2015 – 35 per cent of whom were women. However, though this information shows an increase of 47 per cent on past summers, the key is to actually get those potential new players hitting the course.

To read more about what can be done to get women playing golf, please visit the Women’s SportsNet website.


ALM logo   

Strength training key to helping obese teens

New research suggests that strength training is a must for obese teenagers and even outperforms cardio when it comes to health benefits.

According to an article on the Australasian Leisure Management website, Lincoln University Sport and Recreation Associate Professor Mike Hamlin has evaluated existing research on how exercise affects adolescents with weight issues and found that obese people who strength train regularly often have similar cardiovascular health to fit individuals of a healthy weight.

Associate Professor Hamlin explains “this has significant implications for young people.”

“Children and teenagers should be exercising for at least an hour a day, according to the World Health Organisation. But this can be a problem for obese kids, who are disadvantaged by the effort and pain associated with moving a large mass.

“That’s where strength training is helpful, because it doesn’t place as much stress on the joints as intense aerobic exercise.”

To read the article please visit the ALM website.