Sport, health and physical activity in children
As childhood obesity has grown significantly in recent years, a lack of physical activity (PA) linked, in part, to a fall in participation in sport, has been widely acknowledged as a key contributor. Similarly, the relationship between childhood PA and the impact this has on (i) child health (ii) adult health and (iii) lifelong health behaviours, attracts widespread interest. Yet, the evidence to support these relationships remains relatively weak and much of the existing research focuses on adults. Children, with their unique behaviours and characteristics, require focused research and interventions that can improve long-term health outcomes. This chapter aims to discuss current evidence, address any misconceptions and enhance our understanding of the potential relationships between PA, sport and health. Key factors that influence children’s participation at the macro, micro and individual level will also be discussed and identifying what sport and PA professionals can do to increase participation in both the PA and sporting domains will also be addressed.