Most people take for granted that playing sports is good for the body. However, new research indicates that merely watching sports live may be good for the mind as well.
Participants in a study conducted by Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England who attended live sporting events reported lower levels of loneliness and higher levels of life satisfaction than those who did not, according to a paper published in Frontiers in Public Health.
Researchers surveyed 7,249 people in England as to their well-being and their in-person sports viewing habits, ranging from residents as young as 16 to those as old as 85.
They concluded that "(live sporting event) attendance has positive associations with some aspects of subjective wellbeing... above and beyond demographic predictors."
"The live events covered by the survey ranged from free amateur events, such as watching village sports teams, right through to Premier League football matches," Dr. Helen Keyes — the study's lead author — said in a news release. "We do know that watching live sport of all types provides many opportunities for social interaction and this helps to forge group identity and belonging, which in turn mitigates loneliness and boosts levels of wellbeing."
While stressing that further research is necessary, the study's authors expressed a belief that sports could become a helpful health tool in an age of isolation.
"Our findings could be useful for shaping future public health strategies, such as offering reduced ticket prices for certain groups," Keyes said.