Is sport good for older adults? A systematic review of psychosocial outcomes of older adults' sport participation

  • Amy M Gayman School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University
  • Jessica Fraser-Thomas School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University
  • Rylee A Dionigi School of Exercise Science, Sport & Health, Charles Sturt University
  • Sean Horton Department of Kinesiology, University of Windsor
  • Joseph Baker School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University

Abstract

Although sport is promoted as a vehicle to enhance health and well-being throughout the life course, little is known about the psychosocial benefits and costs associated with sport participation in older adulthood. A mixed studies systematic review of English-language, peer-reviewed, original research articles (from the earliest record until March 2015) was undertaken to identify psychosocial outcomes of sport for adults over age 65 and to determine whether sport provides psychosocial outcomes that are distinct from other forms of physical activity. Results suggest sport involvement later in life was related to ageing, cognitive/perceptual, emotional, social, and motivational outcomes but it remains unclear whether these effects were solely related to participation in sport. Additional work with increased attention to methodological design and participant recruitment is needed to better understand psychosocial outcomes of older adults' sport participation and to inform potential interventions. Recommendations to enhance the quality of future studies in the area will be discussed.

Acknowledgments: This work was supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada under Grant #430-2013-000902