A first of its kind, large-scale study examined the benefits of attending a live sporting event. The study, conducted by researchers from the UK's Anglia Ruskin University's School of Psychology and Sport Science, used data from 7,209 adults, aged between 16 and 85, living in England, for the study.
Published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, this research found that attending any type of live sporting event results in higher scores in two important measurements of subjective well-being: life satisfaction and a sense of “life being worthwhile” along with lower levels of loneliness.
Previous studies have shown that higher life satisfaction is linked to fewer life-limiting conditions and better health as well as lower mortality rates. This study found that live sporting events increase people’s feeling that life is worthwhile, and this increase is comparable to that of gaining employment, according to the announcement.
Researchers believe that watching live sporting events can offer an accessible and effective public health tool to reduce loneliness. “Ours is the first study to look at the benefits of attending any sporting event across an adult population, and therefore our findings could be useful for shaping future public health strategies, such as offering reduced ticket prices for certain groups,” said lead author Dr Helen Keyes, Head of the School of Psychology and Sport Science at Anglia Ruskin University.
The live events covered by the survey ranged from free amateur events, such as watching village sports teams, right through to Premier League football matches, Keyes added. Further research is required to better understand if there are more benefits for elite-level sports, or are more closely linked to supporting a particular team.
"However, we do know that watching the live sport of all types provides many opportunities for social interaction and this helps to forge group identity and belonging, which in turn mitigates loneliness and boosts levels of wellbeing," Keyes explained.