Dr Dan Parnell




Sport and Health Exploring the Current State of Play

Edited by Daniel Parnell, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and Peter Krustrup, University of Southern Denmark

Series: ICSSPE Perspectives

Go the the book here. 

It is a common assumption that sport is good for us and that participation in sport embodies public health benefits. With sport being increasingly used to deliver public health interventions worldwide, this book critically examines the rationale and evidence for sport as a public health policy tool. It looks at sport interventions across the lifespan, for biological, psychological and social benefits, including those that utilise a settings based approach to health promotion such as professional sport clubs. Drawing on cutting-edge research which examines policy and practice at community and elite levels, this is important reading for anybody working in sport development or public health.

20% Discount Available – enter the code FLR40 at checkout*

Hb: 978-1-138-29022-8 | £84.00/$120.00
* Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount and only applies to books purchased directly via The Routledge website.

For more details, or to request a copy for review, please contact: Robyn Doyle, Author
Marketing & Communications,


Hitting the bar: How can we promote healthy drinking in sporting settings

I am delighted to be invited to speak at Alcohol Concern Cymru’s Annual Conference 2017, Hitting the bar: How can we promote healthy drinking in sporting settings? on Tuesday, 26 September 2017, at Cardiff City Stadium.

This is a great opportunity to share insight from our understanding around healthy stadia and health promotion through sport. My presentation is on How can sport organisations promote health? The programme is outlined in full below and you can participate/get involved here.
09.30 – 10.00 Registration
10.00 – 10.10 Welcome – Andrew Misell, Director of Alcohol Concern Cymru

10.10 – 10.20 Keynote address – Rebecca Evans AM

10.20 – 10.50 Alcohol sports sponsorships and their impact on consumption – Dr Pat Kenny, Dublin Institute of Technology

10.50 – 11.20 Alcohol marketing during Euro 2016 – Dr Richard Purves, University of Stirling

11.20 – 11.40 BREAK

11.40 – 12.10 Alcohol consumption: a core part of the sporting ethos – Dr Carwyn Jones, Professor in Sport Ethics, Cardiff Metropolitan University

12.10 – 12.40 Does participating in sport mean higher consumption? A mixed methods study of British young people – Dr Britt Hallingberg, Cardiff University

12.40 – 13.30 LUNCH

13.30 – 14.00 A personal reflection – Christian Roberts (ex-professional footballer)

14.00 – 14.30 The role of sport in the development of substance addiction – Dr Camilla Knight, Swansea University

14.30 – 15.00 BREAK (with mocktails)

15.00 – 15.30 How can sport organisations promote health? – Dr Dan Parnell, Manchester Metropolitan University

15.30 – 16.00 A community mobilisation intervention to reduce alcohol consumption amongst sports players – Prof Shane Allwright, Trinity College Dublin

16:00 – 16:30 The ‘Good Sports’ project – Melanie Kingsland, Newcastle University (Australia)

16.30 CLOSE

Is austerity the biggest threat to sport of our time?

This article was originally published on Connect Sport here.

This is a short research note prepared by Dr Dan Parnell and Dr Peter Millward, of ConnectSport, which offers an insight into a recent special issue on sport management in an era of austerity, published in the European Sport Management Quarterly journal.

The research note is based on a special issue edited by Dr Dan Parnell, Professor Karl Spracklen and Dr Peter Millward, which can be found here: Parnell, D., Spracklen, K., & Millward, P. (2016). Special Issue Introduction: Sport management issues in an era of austerity. European Sport Management Quarterly.

What is austerity?

Following Blyth’s (2013, p.2) description, we see austerity as: ‘a form of voluntary deflation in which the economy adjusts through the reduction of wages, prices and public spending to restore competitiveness which is [supposedly] best achieved by cutting the state’s budget, debts and deficits’.

Why is this an issue for sport?

The impact of the economic crisis which has engulfed Europe since 2008 and the subsequent ‘austerity measures’ which have reduced local and national spending on many public services focused on the practices of sport management, has received only scant scholarly attention.

A previous ConnectSport article sheds some light on how austerity can impact sport. There is no doubt public, private and third sector organisations, from grassroots to elite levels have faced challenges as a result of austerity (Parnell, Widdop and King, 2015).

Reduced finances and significant changes to public funding has meant many within sport are being challenged to deliver more, with limited resources and evidence their successes. Indeed, the search (and scrutiny) for value for money is definitely on! As a result, the special issue is very timely for sport practitioners and policy-makers.

What does the special issue cover?

This special issue provides insights on the impacts of policy in an era of austerity utilising case studies from two sporting organisations in two different European countries.

The first paper, ‘Implications of austerity measures on National Sport Federations: The case of Greece’ by Chrysostomos Giannoulakis, Dimitra Papadimitriou, Konstantinos Alexandris and Shea Brgoch discusses the consequences of forced austerity measures, and the implications of having to cut jobs in order to help their heavily indebted economies.

In the second article, by Catherine Walker and John Hayton overview the situation of a third sector disability sport organisation in the United Kingdom (UK), describing how this organisation has navigated austerity by adjusting management practices.

The issues raised in these two contributions present a wide range of challenges and questions for those who research in, and on the impact of austerity in sport management.

The biggest threat of our time?

Some might reasonably argue that austerity-driven policy measures offer the key challenge to the sport disciplinary area so far in the 21st century – and yet, thus far, a clear gap in research around the issue exists.  Our scholarly and intellectual aim in collating this special issue is to trigger ideas, debate and interest with a view to filling this space.

How do we in community sport and research move forward?

Of particular interest, a non-exhaustive list of research ideas in this area might include:

   – Further empirical research on the impacts of austerity measures on sport policy cuts: There is a shortfall of quantitative and qualitative research that explores the physical impacts of austerity cuts to sport policy budgets across Europe.  The Continent has various levels of quality data which exist on this, but in countries such as England seemingly robust data of this nature exists in the Active People Survey.  Data of this nature needs to be utilised and mined to draw up a localised picture of whether or not – or to what extent – sport policy cuts have reduced sport participation at a grassroots level.

   – The impact of sport policy cuts on ‘hard-to-reach’ populations: Some sectors of European societies are well recognised to be ‘hard to reach’ with respect to facilitating physical activity, particularly including sport participation.  The evidence base that exists about those who have suffered through austerity measures might suggest there is overlap amongst the two groups.  Some state-resourced sport and leisure facilities have closed or had opening hours reduced as a result of reduced state resource, particularly if they are ‘committee-serving’ rather than ‘profit-making’.  We hope this special issue may support future research in listening to, and analysing the narratives of those who used those sports facilities that have closed as a result of budgetary cuts, especially if those populations are part of the ‘hard-to-reach’ populations.

   – Managerial dilemmas faced by decision-makers: The processes of gaining ‘more’ (or at least the same) for less presents real challenges for senior and middle managers of state sport facilities on all geographical levels across Europe. Yet their voices – as concerns and/or challenges – have so far not been heard.  A potential research avenue which could spring from this special issue might be to empirically and theoretically understand such dilemmas.

   – Opportunities for public-private partnerships: The reduction in public spending in areas such as sport facilities is assumed to be negative.  Yet such changes in the nature of budgets may open up possibilities for new public-private partnerships, which throw up a host of new questions for sport management scholars.  We hope this special issue might spur on future research in this area.

   – Challenges for elite sport provisions and future achievements: So far, the suggestions for further research have veered toward amateur sport participation.  Yet this is but one (sizeable) part of the web of sport in Europe.  How might budgetary cuts and changes affect elite sport provisions and impact of future achievements?  The voices of coaches and athletes need to be heard to understand this complex set of management issues.

   – Increased accountability of public resources on sport/sport-related projects: The public’s awareness of austerity measures has increased media scrutiny on the use of ever-scarcer state resources spent on sport and sport-related projects.  There have been widespread calls for ‘accountability’ of how such resources are spent.  What does this mean for those in sport management positions? Are new ‘surveillance’ measures put in place, are they helpful (and to who they are helpful/unhelpful?) and how are they managed by key stakeholders in the sport management process?

   – University and Third Sector partnerships: We suggest that this period of ‘super-austerity’ (2015–2020) (Parnell et al., 2016) could provide an opportunity or the platform for sport management to heavily influence the Third Sector sport industry. Academic institutes, particularly those in higher education, are facing their own respective challenges regarding reduced research funding and heightened need for impact. As such, universities may take opportunities to develop meaningful applied research activities and partnerships with Third Sector sport organisations (Parnell et al., 2015); developing university and Third Sector partnerships may help organisations respond to the economic downturn and in turn develop research outputs and tangible impact within the industry .


Our hope for the special issue is to trigger ideas and interest for a number of potential research contexts to develop and extend our understanding. Ultimately, we feel this important debate has just started and there is much more to add.

To do this, universities have a real opportunity to develop meaningful, collaborative, research-based partnerships that have a high probability of impact in sport-based organisations which need strategic and operational support (Parnell et al., 2015).

Finally, we challenge researchers to extend this preliminary list of ideas and take up the challenge to address this gap in academic and policy understanding.

Forthcoming conference: Readers, whether researchers, policy-makers or practitioners may be interested in the forthcoming Sport and Politics Study Group Annual Conference at FC United, hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University: Sport Policy and Politics: The Inequality Gap. Sport and Politics Study Group Annual Conference, Thursday 16 and Friday 17 March 2017 at FC United. To find out more – click here.

This research note is based on the following article: Parnell, D., Spracklen, K., & Millward, P. (2016). Special Issue Introduction: Sport management issues in an era of austerity. European Sport Management Quarterly – found here (open access is here).

Dr Dan Parnell is an active researcher and senior lecturer in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport. or follow @parnell_daniel on Twitter or access his research here.

Dr Peter Millward is Reader in Sociology at Liverpool John Moores University.  Many of his research interests relate to sport and he has published widely in this area. or follow @PeteMillward79 on Twitter or access his research here.

Making a difference off the pitch the social and community contribution of sport in Manchester

As part of our ESRC Festival of Social Science event: Manchester: a global centre for sport, we delivered a session on Making a difference off the pitch the social and community contribution of sport in Manchester with colleagues from industry and academia. Below is our session, but the rest of the videos can be found here.

Manchester: a global centre for sport

Conference pre-amble for our ESRC Festival of Social Science event, here is my contribution, but the rest of the videos can be found here.

The value of golf to health

This article was original published on Connect Sport.

In a recent article in the British Journal of Sport Medicine researchers provided their findings on a scoping review exploring the relationship between golf and health. Here Dr Dan Parnell and Dr Paul Widdop, of ConnectSport, offer an insight into the research and its implications for community sport.

Golf is undoubtedly a global sport, played largely outdoors on open-air greenfield courses and involves striking a ball and walking (mostly), which makes it an interesting pastime to study health. Evidence suggests that the game is reputedly played by around 55 million people in 206 countries, but courses are concentrated in nations with larger GDPs, as are prestigious international tournaments. Those who participate in golf are demographically diverse, with a breadth of people playing from young and older age cohorts, and those with a range of abilities. Whilst this is true, certain sections of society are more inclined to participate in the sport, given its somewhat elitist nature, which we have discussed further in a previous post.

Why is golf of interest to health?

Golf has widespread international interest and appeal, emphasised by international tournaments and vast acres of land given over to private and publicly financed courses. Furthermore, as of 2016 it has been reintroduced as an Olympic sport, which it is hoped will raise the profile and participation of the game globally.

Golf does not offer the exercise intensity of cycling, swimming, football, tennis, but it still has an important role to play as the fifth most popular sport in England (behind football, cycling, athletics and swimming). Perhaps the low intensity is what makes it attractive to sections of society, for example older age cohorts, who might be unwilling or unable to participate in alternative sports. Furthermore, but not specified in the paper, are the social aspects of golf for health and mental well-being, that is the social capital generated, from a Robert Putnam tradition.  Perhaps, golf and its association with the 19th hole (slang term for the clubhouse) is unique in this aspect, as the end of the game is built on socialising.

The Health Survey for England 2012 data outlines that 2.2% of persons aged 16 and over reported playing golf in the four weeks prior to the survey, although participation levels are greater in higher socio-economic groups.

It has also been highlighted that older age cohorts play to a greater extent than younger groups (Scottish Health Survey, 2013), and to a greater intensity.  But there is a lack of evidence as to whether cost and other types of capital restrictions influences these findings.

Given the economic recession and challenges for keeping people active and recruiting new participants, making golf accessible for all is a key challenge for the industry. This is growing increasingly difficult given the counter-intuitive strategies of some elitist clubs, who embark on policies which detach themselves from communities, through excessive pricing structures.

The scoping review

This scoping review included published and unpublished reports of any age or language, identified by searching electronic databases, platforms, reference lists, websites and from consulting experts.

Using a three-step search strategy the authors identified relevant considerations. In all, 4944 records were identified, later filtered down to 301 studies, which met the criteria set by the research team.

What did the scoping review find?

The findings surround three keys areas and reflect a growing development in the breadth and depth of research undertaken in golf participation.

1 Physical health: Golf can provide moderate intensity physical activity and is associated with physical health benefits which include improved cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic profiles, and improved wellness.

2 Mental health: There is limited evidence related to golf and mental health.

3 Risk of injury: The incidence of golfing injury is moderate, with back injuries the most frequent. Accidental head injuries are rare, but can have serious consequences.

What are the implications for community sport?

We should take some encouragement that participation in golf is associated with improved physical health.

Providing evidence and placing golf at the forefront of the psyche of practitioners and policymakers, by identifying the social benefits associated with golf individually and collectively for communities, is essential. The following points illustrate where funding and evidence must be generated for programmes to support increased participation:

– improved physical health.

– improved mental well-being.

– contribute to increased life expectancy.

– increase community-level social capital.

This might be particularly relevant for older participants, where golf can contribute to increased muscle strength, balance and falls prevention (and mental health).

Risk of injury is rare, but remains a factor in golf, like other sports. It will be important for those in community sport to consider reduction strategies and pro-active support ahead of programme implementation.

Where possible, practitioners and policy-makers should seek to engage with universities to develop research and evaluation opportunities to fill the identified gap in our understanding of golf and health.

Community-level social capital through sport is often a throw-away line. But golf has a social aspect which community sport groups need to explore for the benefit of community cohesion and civic engagement.

This article is based on the following research article:

Murray, A. D.,  Daines,, L., Archibald,, D., Hawkes, R.A., Schiphorst, C.,  Kelly, P., Grant, L., and N. Mutrie. (2016). The relationships between golf and health: a scoping review. British Journal of Sport Medicine. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096625 (open access is here).

Dr Dan Parnell is an active researcher and senior lecturer in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport. or follow @parnell_daniel on Twitter or access his research here.

Dr Paul Widdop is a research fellow at Leeds Beckett University. His research interests are in the consumption and production of sport, especially in relation to social networks, geography, and neighbourhood effects. Contact or follow @Fire_and_Skill on Twitter.

Children, youth and physical activity – in schools during leisure time

This post was originally posted on Connect Sport here.

An international meeting of 24 international researchers from a variety of academic disciplines took place at a ‘Consensus Conference’ in Denmark in April 2016. In this article Dr Dan Parnell, Research Director for ConnectSport, offers an overview of the consensus statement and highlights some of the important recommendations for researchers and practitioners in community sport.

The aim of the meeting was to reach evidence-based consensus about physical activity in children and youth, that is, individuals between six and 18 years.

How can we describe physical activity?

Physical activity is an over-arching term that consists of many structured and unstructured forms within school and out-of-school-time contexts, including organised sport, physical education, outdoor recreation, motor skill development programmes, recess and active transportation such as biking and walking.

What does the consensus statement offer?

The consensus statement presents the accord on the effects of physical activity on children’s and youth’s fitness, health, cognitive functioning, engagement, motivation, psychological well-being and social inclusion, as well as presenting educational and physical activity implementation strategies. The consensus was obtained through an iterative process which began with presentation of the state of the art in each domain followed by plenary and group discussions.

Ultimately Consensus Conference participants reached agreement on the 21-item consensus statement. The 21-items are split across the following four themes:

  • – Theme 1: Physical activity in children and youth – fitness and health.
  • – Theme 2: Physical activity in children and youth – cognitive functioning.
  • – Theme 3: Physical activity in children and youth – engagement, motivation and psychological well-being.
  • – Theme 4: Physical activity in children and youth – social inclusion and physical activity implementation strategies.

You can access the full consensus statement here and it has been published on (Bangsbo et al., 2016).

It is important to not only understand the evidence, but to understand what meaningful action can be taken which is informed by the evidence base. Therefore, I have included all recommendations made across the four themes and believe many are particularly important for community sport.


Theme 1: Physical activity in children and youth – fitness and health.

  • – Fitness levels should be measured in children and youth for cardiometabolic risk stratification.
  • – Reliable and valid field testing, including intermittent maximal tests such as the – Andersen and Yo-Yo intermittent children’s tests and measurements of waist and height, are recommended to provide a preliminary assessment of the cardiometabolic risk for children and youth, and to provide feedback regarding relevant improvements in fitness and health status after training interventions.
  • – Small-sided ball games, like football, team handball, floorball and basketball, are recommended to elicit high cardiometabolic and musculoskeletal loading, individual involvement and favourable cardiometabolic and musculoskeletal training effects.
  • – Active transportation to and from schools, when safe, should be encouraged. Commuter cycling to and from school is recommended and is more effective to improve cardiorespiratory fitness than walking.
  • – For all children and youth, inclusive of healthy and those with chronic diseases, it is relevant to distinguish between training effects on cardiovascular, metabolic and musculoskeletal fitness, when evaluating the fitness and health effects of various types of physical activity.
  • – Assessment of cardiometabolic risk for children and youth should include fitness and be based on standardised continuous risk factor scores.
  • – Musculoskeletal fitness and health can be enhanced through several types of physical activity in sports clubs and schools when children and youth are engaged in vigorous, intermittent, impact-promoting activities, such as jumping, circuit strength training and ball games.


Theme 2: Physical activity in children and youth – cognitive functioning.

  • – Physical activity can promote scholastic performance in a broad sense. Whether it does so, depends on active participation and engagement in the physical activities.
  • – Initiatives and adjusted practice to increase motivation and competence for participation is thus essential. Opportunities include, for example, active transport, physical education, active lessons, recess, and after-school programming.
  • – Integration of movement into teaching activities of academic subjects holds promise, but studies are ongoing and there are at present only a few (but positive) available studies on this relationship. Presumably, a key feature is that the movement or physical activity is directly related to the intended learning objective.
  • – A single session of moderate intensity physical activity has transient benefits to brain function, cognition and scholastic performance with benefits derived for approximately one hour, depending on the characteristics of the physical. Physical activity immediately prior to a learning session should not be too intense since high stress or fatigue may blunt the beneficial effect. Additional benefits to memory may be derived when moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is performed after learning.
  • – Mastery of fundamental movement skills is beneficial to cognition and scholastic performance in children and youth, and both physical activity throughout school and in leisure physical activities can benefit motor functions. Motor skill screening provides a valuable tool for identifying children in need of adapted support in motor skill development. Specific ‘adapted’ interventions should be developed and offered to children with motor skill deficits in order to benefit motor development and motivation for participation in physical activities.
  • – The school is the arena where it is possible to reach the vast majority of children and youth, also those who are not otherwise regularly physically active. Increased focus on, and time for physical activity with qualified activities can be a possible way to promote motor skills and school performance as well as motivation for participation in physical activity.


Theme 3: Physical activity in children and health – engagement, motivation and psychological well-being.

  • – Children and youth should be provided with fun, personally meaningful and developmentally-appropriate physical activities, which offer opportunities for positive social interactions.
  • – Adults need to empower children’s and youths’ feelings of competence and personal autonomy and facilitate their enjoyment of, and engagement in physical activity by creating environments which are autonomy supportive (eg provide a voice, choice and decision-making), mastery-oriented (eg emphasise the value of hard work, personal improvement, co-operation and continual learning) and socially supportive (eg ensure young people feel cared for, accepted and respected, separate children’s sense of worth from their performance).
  • – Children and youth should be encouraged to do physical activity with close friends and be provided a variety of mutually-valued physical activity options in school and out-of-school-time settings.
  • – Parents should serve as physical activity role models, by communicating a positive attitude about physical activity, being regularly active and demonstrating value toward physical activity through consistent verbal and non-verbal behaviours. Parent education programs can inform them about the importance and features of positive physical activity environments.
  • – Coaches and teachers should receive systematic training regarding the rationale for, principles of, and strategies they can adopt to create more empowering physical activity environments for children and youth.
  • – Adults should take the opportunities afforded via children’s and youths’ engagement in physical activity to teach them life skills, such as interpersonal, self-management, and conflict resolution skills, which can generalise or transfer to other domains such as school, future work and home life.


Theme 4: Physical activity in children and youth – social inclusion and physical activity implementation strategies

  • – Provide a wide variety of physical movement experiences for all children early in their lives to build fundamental movement skills and familiarity with physical activity.
  • – Offer a variety of sporting and physical activities which recognise and engage diverse children and youth.
  • – Offer a range of contexts for sporting and physical activities in order to support the inclusion of children and youth into specific activities and contexts that are meaningful to them.
  • – Provide capacity building interventions (eg policy, in-service training, ongoing technical support, resources and evidence) which support the implementation of PA policies and programmes in schools and community environments.
  • – Organisations and stakeholders involved in sport and physical activity provision should develop social inclusion policies and practices.
  • – Support socially inclusive practices with education, training and support for physical activity providers.


How can you use the consensus statement?

Reading these recommendations will no doubt leave many within community sport in agreement. This consensus statement and recommendations can be shared with funders and policy-makers. Furthermore they should be used to inform and guide practice and research.

For further details please see the full report here and research here.

Dr Dan Parnell is Research Director at ConnectSport, co-founder of The Football Collective, an active researcher and senior lecturer in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport. or follow @parnell_daniel on Twitter or access his research here.


Heads up! How small-sided football can help the nation’s health

This article was originally published here.

Dr Dan Parnell, of the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University, offers some thoughts on recently-published research which highlights how small-sided football training can contribute to the health of the nation.

In England, we have observed the growth of professional football clubs as deliverers of Primary Physical Education (PE) (Parnell et al., 2016). Whilst Primary PE has been outsourced to a range of willing providers, recent research suggests that football could offer some real answers to tackling the health of the nation.

In June 2016, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published an editorial by Peter Krustrup, Juri Dvorak and Jens Bangsbo, which discusses the role of small-sided football training in schools and leisure-time sports clubs, and how it improves physical fitness, health profile, well-being and learning in children (Krustrup, Dvorak and Bansgo, 2016).

How can small-sided football training help children?

The editorial highlighted that of the research on Football for Health (about 100 scientific articles from 2009 to present), approximately one third have investigated football training in schools and in sports clubs.

The conclusions are encouraging:

  • small-sided football training induces high heart rates, a large number of intense actions along with high involvement, technical success rates and training effects for boys and girls irrespective of body mass index, fitness level or prior experience with football;
  • 98% of children who are members of football clubs live up to the physical activity recommendation of health authorities and they have stronger bones, less fat and greater aerobic fitness than non-sport club members, and
  • small-sided school-based football interventions with just 2×30, 3×40 and 2×45-minute weekly games improve bone health, heart health, physical capacity and learning in children aged eight to 12 years old.

This provides a clear message for all stakeholders from policy-makers to headteachers: Football has the potential to get children fit and healthy! 

What can we do?

We have already highlighted the lack of research and understanding of the role of professional football clubs in the delivery of Primary Physical Education (Parnell et al., 2016). But that aside, those involved in (and genuinely interested in) getting our children fit and health need to, in football terms, ‘get their heads up’.

We need to deliver high-quality, focused programmes which use small-sided football training to deliver health targets. And this needs to be supported with clear research and evaluation, to make sure we are getting this right in practice (Lansley and Parnell, 2016). The evidence is there – we just need to make this happen.

This article is based on the following research article:

Krustrup, P., Dvorak, J., and Bangsbo, J. (2016). Small-sided football in schools and leisure-time sport clubs improves physical fitness, health profile, well-being and learning in children. British Journal of Sports Medicine, doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096266 (open access here).

Dr Dan Parnell is an active researcher and senior lecturer in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport. or follow @parnell_daniel on Twitter or access his research here.

Football: the new drug in the fight against lifestyle diseases

England’s poor performance at Euro 2016, declining grassroots football participation and The FA under pressure to reform; it all paints a sorry state of affairs for the national game. Despite this, football remains high on the agenda for development agencies.

In recent months Dr Dan Parnell, Research Director at ConnectSport, travelled to Denmark to meet Professor Peter Krustrup of the University of Copenhagen to discuss the role of team sports in health promotion. A key part of the conversation was the role of (i) professional football clubs and (ii) football as an activity in tackling lifestyle diseases.

Football and team sports are becoming a key interest for policy-makers and health professionals aiming to influence physical activity levels and tackle lifestyle diseases. This is a result of the growing amount of research on football and health.

This short article seeks to highlight the body of work undertaken by Peter and his colleagues. Peter’s research has shown that football is an effective weapon against lifestyle diseases. Their research establishes the health effects of football for children, adult men and women, the elderly, and people with diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Peter provides an insight into his work in the video below which champions football as “an alternative to drugs in the fight against lifestyle diseases”.


Other related research:

Bangsbo, J., A. Junge, J, Dvorák, and P. Krustrup. 2014. “Executive Summary: Football for Health–Prevention and Treatment of Non-Communicable Diseases across the Lifespan through Football.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 24 (S1): 147–150.

Hunt, K., S. Wyke, C.M. Gray, A.S. Anderson, A. Brady, C. Bunn, P.T. Donnon et al. 2014. “A Gender-sensitised Weight Loss and Healthy Living Programme for Overweight and Obese Men Delivered by Scottish Premier League Football Clubs (FFIT): A Pragmatic Randomised Controlled Trial.” The Lancet 383: 1211–21. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62420-4.

Krustrup, P., P. Aagaard, L. Nybo, J. Petersen, M. Mohr, J. Bangsbo. 2010. “Recreational football as a health promoting activity: a topical review.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science Sports 20 (1): 1–13.

May, A. and D. Parnell. 2016. “The community impact of football pitches: a case study of Maidstone United FC. Sport in Society DOI: 10.1080/17430437.2016.1173921

Mckenna, J., T. Quarmby, N. Kime, D. Parnell, and S. Zwolinsky. 2016. “Lessons from the field for working in Healthy Stadia: physical activity practitioners reflect on ‘sport’.” Sport in Society doi: 10.1080/17430437.2016.1173913

Milanović, Z., S. Pantelić, N. Čović, G. Sporiš, and P. Krustrup. 2015. “Is Recreational Soccer Effective for Improving VO2max A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Sports Medicine45 (9): 1339-53.

Oja, P., S. Titze, S. Kokko, U.M. Kujala, A. Heinonen, P. Kelly, P. Koski, and C. Foster. 2015.“Health benefits of different sport disciplines for adults: systematic review of observational and intervention studies with meta-analysis.” British Journal of Sports Medicine49: 434–40.

Other related special editions

Bangsbo, J., P. Krustrup., and J. Dvorak. 2014. “Special Issue: Football for Health – Prevention and Treatment of Non-Communicable Diseases across the Lifespan through Football.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 24 (S1): 1.

Parnell, D., K. Curran, and M. Philpott. 2016. “Healthy stadia: an insight from policy to practice.” Sport in Society doi:10.1080/17430437.2016.1173914

Parnell, D., and A. Pringle. 2016. “Football and Health Improvement: An Emerging Field.”Soccer & Society 17 (2): 171–174.

Parnell, D., and D. Richardson. 2014. “Introduction: Football and Inclusivity.” Soccer & Society 15 (6): 823–7.

Dr Dan Parnell is Research Director at @ConnectSport and an active researcher and senior lecturer in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport. Contact or follow @parnell_daniel on Twitter or access his research here.

This article was originally published on Connect Sport, here.

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