Scottish Student Sport Research Report

Scottish Student Sport Research Report

The effects of physical activity on students’ wellbeing, social inclusion, academic success, and employability.

We think physical activity is important for everyone, in particular young people, which is why we worked with UK Active and SSS to look into the effects it has on multiple areas of their life. With over 5,000 students taking part, we spoke to a lot of them and found out that active students scored better than inactive students across all of the areas reported in the survey, including:

  • Attainment – they had a higher expectation of achieving high grades
  • Employability – they rated their key employability skills higher
  • Personal Wellbeing – they had better personal wellbeing scores
  • Mental Wellbeing – they had higher mental wellbeing scores
  • Social Inclusion – they had better social inclusion scores

Being physically active and playing sport while in college and university could help students land that first dream job, according to findings from a survey of over 5,000 students.

The research, conducted by UK Active Research Institute in partnership with Scottish Student Sport and sponsored by leading fitness equipment manufacturer and supplier Precor, sheds interesting light on how broad-reaching the positive impact physical activity and sport can be during our formative years.

Students were asked if they took part in any type of activity, either being a member of a sports club, using the gym, both or neither. Almost half of respondents (46%) met the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week classing themselves as active, with only 19% replying they were completely inactive. In total, 49% of those surveyed were members of both a sports club and a gym.

The overall results were astounding with 93% of active University participants believing they would secure a 1st or 2.1 compared with only 81% of the inactive respondents. When considering employability and looking at skills such as teamwork, verbal and written communication, planning and organisation, the active student group scored higher across all attributes, providing insight into the high level of confidence and positive self-esteem taking part in sport and physical activity can give.

Leadership showed the biggest differential with 88% of active students giving positive ratings against 73% of inactive students. When applying for jobs, overall 54% of students would mention their involvement in physical activity and this increased to 66% for active students while overall 47% of students believed participating in physical activity would increase their employability ‘quite a lot’.

Almost three quarters (73%) of active students indicated that thoughts for their future had changed positively since taking part in sport and physical activity and those students that were involved in a sports club and a gym had the highest, most positive mental wellbeing scores compared to participants that did neither.

The report also shows that socially active students have a higher sense of belonging than those that are inactive.

Tim Ostle, Commercial Director at Charterhouse, an independent boarding school near Godalming, Surrey comments: “Our gym features state-of-the-art Precor equipment fitted with Preva networked fitness, that provides a personalised fitness experience enabling students to set goals and track their fitness activities. We believe the facilities we offer play a significant role in creating a lifelong passion for sport, activity and wellbeing and instilling in our pupils the benefits of exercise and healthy living.”

With over 6,000 square meters of activity space and providing facilities for over 15,400 gym members, the three-storey Pleasance Sports Complex at the University of Edinburgh takes claim to be the largest independent gym complex in Scotland.

Jim Aitken MBE, Director of Sport and Exercise at the University, believes that providing students, staff and members of the community with equipment that fits with their lifestyle will encourage participation. He comments: “As a world-leading university we didn’t hesitate to equip the gyms with Precor equipment. We can provide gym members with the opportunity to use the very best fitness equipment around and with the potential of Precor’s unique technology and Preva we can take our member engagement to new levels.”

Two years ago students at Latymer Upper School benefited from a new £14 million sports centre including a fitness suite that showcases Precor equipment, enabling its pupils to thrive in a sporting environment.

Tallan Gill, Director of Sport at Latymer Upper School comments: “Latymerians take their sport and exercise very seriously and it was important for us to have equipment that matches our high quality training and expectations. Precor has a reputation for quality and after sales service and the equipment suited our sporting and IT requirements.”

In order to encourage participation, Newcastle University tapped into the technological aspect of their student’s lifestyles when the gym was refitted.

Nick Beall, Facilities Service Manager at Newcastle University comments: “The results of the Scottish Student Sport Research Report into the positive benefits of physical activity come as no surprise to those of us who are at the forefront of this type of service delivery in Higher Education. At Newcastle University we take physical activity very seriously and offer a varied and in depth student sport and physical activity programme offering something for all of our 25,000 students.”

“Going to the gym is the single most popular physical activity that our students at Newcastle University undertake so it is vital that we get this aspect of our service delivery right and our long standing partnership with Precor is key to achieving this. Not only do they provide high quality equipment, but also a high quality support package. Students live at the forefront of the digital world and the Precor’s P80 consoles and Preva software enable Newcastle University students to exercise in the technological world in which they thrive and are comfortable. If we don’t offer our students an exercise experience that is digital and enjoyable, then we are not doing our job properly!”

Download the full report