Research and policy

Sport and recreation helps unite and strengthen communities.

Sport and recreation policies

The value of sport and recreation

Sport and recreation is not about winning, it's about helping build stronger, healthier, happier, and safer communities. The Department advocates and supports projects to strengthen communities through sport and recreation.

Communities that participate in sport and recreation develop strong social bonds, are safer places and the people who live in them are generally healthier and happier than places where physical activity isn’t a priority.

Sport and recreation builds stronger, healthier, happier and safer communities.
Paddle boarders at the beach

Increasing participation

Different groups of people within the sport and recreation community have different requirements. Identifying these groups and fostering inclusion allows focused development in specific areas within the industry.

Active kids are smarter

Research proves that if your kid is physically active they do better at school.

Physical activity enhances cognitive function improving memory, behaviour, concentration and academic achievement.

On the other hand inactivity negatively impacts brain health and executive control including: 

  • maintaining focus
  • working memory
  • multi-tasking.
Physical activity and the positive impact on education infographic

Did you know?

  • Most research shows replacing academic lessons with physical activity does not have a detrimental impact on school grades – in fact some research shows increased participation in physical activity leads to better grades.
  • Most university-based, internationally-published research in this field has found a positive link between children’s physical activity participation and academic achievement.
  • Short amounts of exercise benefits executive functions.
  • More intense physical activity out of school resulted in higher test scores and improved reading comprehension.
  • Physical activity intervention led to significant improvements in children’s maths scores.
  • Students who exercised more, participated in sport and achieved higher grade point averages.

Why is this?

  • Exercise can increase levels  of a brain growth factor.
  • Exercise can stimulate nerve growth.
  • Regular physical activity may reduce plasma noradrenaline (a vasoconstrictor which reduces blood flow to the brain).
  • Exercise increases blood flow to the cortex of the brain.
  • Physical activity improves children’s concentration, attention and reasoning ability.
  • Physical activity leads to improvement in cognitive control.

In other words – if you exercise, your brain is fitter and works better. It’s pretty simple!

Who says this?

  • Journal of Paediatrics
  • Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
  • Journal of School Health
  • Journal of Paediatric Psychology
  • Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
  • American Journal of Preventive Medicine
  • American Journal of Public Health
  • Canadian Association for Health
  • Physical Education and Recreation Research Supplement
  • Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
  • British Journal of Sports Medicine
  • Journal of Sports Behaviour
  • European Journal of Preventative Medicine
  • European Journal of Public Health
  • Journal of Adolescent Health
  • Journal of Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrics
  • American Journal of Health Behaviour
  • International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity
  • Journal of Neurology.

30 ways sport and recreation benefits people and communities

  1. Brings people together, providing opportunities for social interaction.
  2. Empowers, inspires and motivates individuals.
  3. Keeps kids away from the TV or computer screen!
  4. Kids who participate learn better and are more likely to enjoy school.
  5. Improves mental health.
  6. Eases pressure on the health system.
  7. Contributes to social capital.
  8. Healthy workers are more productive and take less sick days.
  9. Creates positive alternatives to youth offending, antisocial behaviour and crime.
  10. Reduces pollution – promotes use of active modes of transport like walking and cycling.
  11. Provides a vehicle for inclusion, drawing together people of different races, religions and cultures.
  12. Creates opportunities for, and promotes, volunteering.
  13. Contributes to higher levels of self-esteem and self-worth.
  14. Helps to sustain the environment through protecting open space and natural areas.
  15. Sport and recreation clubs are the hub of community life, especially in the regions.
  16. Provides work/life balance.
  17. Binds families and communities through shared experiences.
  18. Helps shape our national character and pride.
  19. Creates employment opportunities.
  20. Promotes a healthy, active lifestyle.
  21. Develops life skills and leadership abilities.
  22. Provides a sense of belonging.
  23. Fosters community pride.
  24. Tones and strengthens the body.
  25. Galvanises communities in times of need.
  26. Economic growth through business investment, employment, major events and tourism.
  27. Contributes to lifelong learning.
  28. Great opportunities for networking.
  29. Reduces obesity.
  30. Can help to prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.
30 ways sport and recreation benefits people and communities (the first 15)
30 ways sport and recreation benefits people and communities (the first 15)
Page reviewed 27 August 2019