Sport and physical activity can improve the physical and mental health of staff and students. The evidence base demonstrating effectiveness is increasing and becoming more robust all the time. As such, increased media coverage is generating more interest in this area of work.

We work with partners, including the Association of Colleges, to advocate the benefits of sport and physical activity as a tool to improve health outcomes, including reducing sickness absence, enhancing social cohesion and supporting the personal development, behaviour and welfare of students, increasing self-esteem and reducing anxiety.

We worked with ukactive to produce the British Active Students Survey: Further Education 2018/19 report, in partnership with Matrix Fitness and Sport England.

This surveyed 3,661 college students (aged 16 and over) on their physical activity levels, as well as various measures of mental wellbeing.

The research found a raft of additional mental health benefits for students who regularly exercise. Active students rated their life satisfaction significantly higher than less active students, while also reporting higher levels of happiness, increased perception of social inclusion and higher grade expectations.

Download the report below


We have also published a report ‘Improving mental wellbeing in colleges through physical activity’, which showed that physical activity can help students improve their mental wellbeing.

For further information about this area of work please contact Kirstie Hickson

Download the report below


Other research


Further information