Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A time-poor paradox: Busy people play sport

We’re in a time-poor paradox. When asked why we don’t play sport, the Bureau of Statistics says we commonly blame “lack of time” or “working too many hours”. Yet it finds those of us who play sport the most work between 40 and 50 hours per week.

It finds 88 per cent of Australians working 41 to 48 hours play sport in their spare time, compared to only 79 per cent of those working part-time 16 to 24 hours.

Commuting time is also said to make it hard to take part in amateur sport, yet the Bureau finds participation in sport the highest among the Australians who commute for more than hour to work each day. Those who play sport the least work at home.

Quality of life researcher Bob Cummins at Deakin University believes it’s to do with how work makes us feel rather than the hours it takes from our day.

“People who work more than 40 hours tend to be in jobs they like,” he says. “When people feel good about themselves they tend to feel good about engaging in physical activity.”

“At the other end people who work short hours are often not in fulfilling jobs and not where they want to be. If they don’t feel good about themselves they might not feel up to playing sport.”

The Bureau also finds that people who play sport feel safer and are more likely to agree that people can be trusted. More than half of the sports players surveyed said they felt safe when when walking alone after dark. Only 33 per cent of non sports players felt safe.

Professor Cummins believes the Bureau has identified a virtuous circle...

“If you don’t trust people, you are unlikely to feel good about playing sport with them; but the more you do it the more your trust will grow and the fitter you’ll become making you more confident about walking after dark.”

The Bureau finds 76 per cent of men and 72 per cent of women play sport regularly. Around 80 per cent of Australians aged 35 to 44 play regularly and 60 per cent of Australians of retirement age and over.

In today's Canberra Times, Sydney Morning Herald

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