Sport and Physical Activity Crucial for the Nation’s Physical and Mental Health

Orkney school pupils felt healthier and happier after taking part in the Active Schools programme last year. The importance of the Active Schools initiative which is used by schools and clubs around Scotland is highlighted in new research.

In Orkney, survey responses were gathered from 307 pupils who take part in the Active Schools programme, covering the period from April 2019 to March 2020. Some of the key findings were:

  • 100% of pupils feel healthier
  • 91% feel happier
  • 83% have made friends

It also showed that 96% of pupils were motivated to be active in the future while 82% had been helped by Active Schools to be more active outside of school.

The new research into the work of sportscotland has shown the life-changing effects sport has on those who take part in participation programmes delivered by the national agency for sport.

The research looked at sportscotland’s contribution to the Scottish Government’s Active Scotland Outcomes Framework and highlighted the work of several national programmes such as Active Schools, which nationally has helped 97% of participants surveyed feel happier while 4% of participants are now no longer inactive due to taking part in the programme.

Bo’ness Community Football Club photographs by Alan Peebles

Chief Executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, welcomed the research, he said:

“This report demonstrates the life-changing impacts of sport participation in Orkney and across the country. With the help of our partners across the sporting system we are determined to keep creating more and better opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to take part in sport.

“Scotland’s sporting system has shown incredible resilience during what is an extremely difficult period for us all. It has not been easy for Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport and local partners but there has been a shared commitment that has allowed us to continue to progress.

“We remain in the middle of a public health emergency, but as these findings show sport and physical activity is crucial for the nation’s physical and mental health and we are fully aware of the importance of sport’s role in the country’s recovery from the pandemic.”

Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick, added:

“I fully understand the challenges faced by partners across the sector and the impact COVID-19 is continuing to have on national programmes such as Active Schools.  However, this important research gives us the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the great work that is taking place across Scotland to ensure that people of all ages continue to realise the benefits of sport and physical activity on their physical and mental health.

“Now more than ever we are aware of the positive links between physical activity and mental wellbeing.

“It is really encouraging to see so many respondents stating that being part of sport and physical activity programmes at school or clubs is having a positive impact on their mental health.

“I am also pleased to see that levels of inactivity have dropped due to participation in sport and physical activity across communities – demonstrating the life-changing impact of taking part in sport.”

The Active Scotland Outcome Framework (ASOF): Schools and Club Environments reports were compiled by Union Date using survey responses from 9,000 school pupils during 2019/2020 and 11,000 sport club members.

Visit for full details of the research report.  

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