Young people at Bo'ness United

Sport changes lives

Report shows impact of sports participation

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 has helped 97% of participants surveyed feel healthier while 4% of participants are now no longer inactive due to taking part in the programme.


97% of Active Schools participants surveyed feel healthier
4% of Active Schools participants are no longer inactive due to taking part in the programme


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

“This report demonstrates the life-changing impacts of sport participation. 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 SGBs 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.”

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“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.”

Lismore RFC

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

It found that participation programmes are proving crucial in tackling inactivity. In addition to the 4% of participants in Active Schools who are no longer inactive due to participation in the programme, 7% of club participants are now no longer inactive due to sportscotland’s support for clubs.

Key Active Schools findings include:

  • 97% feel healthier
  • 82% had made friends
  • 88% feel happier
  • 4% of participants are now no longer inactive because of taking part in Active Schools.

Active Schools was also found to be helping pupils in Scotland’s most deprived areas get active. Pupils that live in the most deprived areas of Scotland were more likely to be inactive when discounting Active Schools activity. When Active Schools activity is included, the percentages of those classed as inactive decreases across all SIMD quintiles to below 10%.

The biggest change is for pupils in the most deprived areas where 5% are now no longer inactive due to Active Schools participation.

Key Club findings include:

  • 89% of adults and children feel healthier
  • 96% of children had made friends
  • 69% of adults feel more involved in their community
  • 7% of participants are now no longer inactive due to taking part in sportscotland programmes

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