Leisure and Services

The leisure and cultural services and facilities provided by county, district and borough councils and the third sector have a vital impact on health and wellbeing and are a key wider determinant of health.  Physical activity interventions can help to achieve multiple objectives across public health, transport, the environment, education, healthy ageing and social care.

Participation in sporting activity can:

  • Impact on obesity and other illnesses including mental health and wellbeing.
  • Promote social interaction and build social networks, bond communities together and build bridges between people from different backgrounds, strengthening community identity, cohesion and a sense of belonging.
  • Divert young people away from substance misuse and anti-social and criminal behaviour.
  • Increase concentration, helping to improve absenteeism, classroom behaviour and educational attainment and powers of recall in older people.

Ensuring that recreational and leisure facilities are accessible to all, but particularly all ethnic groups, to those from deprived communities and to the unwaged will contribute to decreasing social exclusion and an increase in physical activity.

Living near parks and green spaces can be beneficial to physical and mental health and wellbeing. They provide easily accessible opportunities for physical activity, and exposure to nature and green space quickly decreases stress and reduces pain, slowing respiration and lowering blood pressure. As there is increasing pressure on open space, it becomes more important to protect parks and green spaces, and ensure that the environment encourages walking and cycling – especially for short urban journeys.

Local information can be obtained from:

Further information about links between leisure services and health is available from: