Community size and sport on exercise participation across 28 countries


Although sport participation is an important contributor to public health, there is little understanding of the social ecological factors that sustain sport participation. The objective of this study was to examine, across 28 countries, the association between community size and sport and exercise participation. Hierarchal non-linear Bernoulli modelling was used to examine the association between community size (1 >100,000; 0  < 100,000) and (1) individual sport, (2) team sport, and (3) exercise participation. After controlling for country-level clustering and a number of demographic variables, those residing in a community with less than 100,000 residents are more likely to participate in team sport (OR=1.14 95% CI= 1.02-1.27) and less likely to participate in exercise (OR=0.83 95% CI= 0.75-0.92) whereas community size is unrelated to individual sport participation (OR=0.98 95%CI= 0.88-1.11). Moreover, the associations between community size and individual sport, team sport, and exercise participation vary across countries (albeit marginally), suggesting these associations may be influenced by other socio-contextual factors. These findings provide novel evidence of a seemingly specific relationship between community size and team sport participation. Further cross-country research is needed to test this relationship and its underlying mechanisms. 

Acknowledgments: The first author is supported by a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Doctoral Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC 767-2012-1381) and by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the CIHR Training Grant in Population Intervention for Chronic Disease Prevention: A Pan-Canadian Program (Grant #: 53893).