Does the level of education affect the practice of sport?

Better educated people with a higher level of education have more physical activity. There are numerous research papers that support this correlation that represents, for those who deal with movement and sport, a fundamental element to be evaluated during the conception and start-up of an activity in a given territory.
A higher education level means, in most cases, a greater awareness of the benefits of healthy and correct movement and lifestyle. But what factors influence physical activity or not? How important is the economic level? How much the social one? Are there any scientific studies on how the level affects the practice of sport?

Factors influencing the level of education

The educational level of a territory in relation to physical activity is conditioned by many factors:
  • The proximity to strategic points, such as large urban centres or junctions for busy destinations; it is well known that isolated countries often do not reach a high level of education, often due to the inconvenience of the time required daily to reach school.
  • The average age of the inhabitants, not so much the young age as the presence of the elderly, significantly reduces the level of schooling, often even in areas that are well developed and close to large urban centers.
  • The level of economic well-being, cause and consequence of the level of education, determines the presence on the territory of concentrations of inhabitants with the same spending possibilities, giving rise to more well-off and educated neighborhoods and others less well-off and with lower rates of schooling.
On this basis, it seems easy and automatic to decide to focus attention on those who belong to an age group that most likely may have studied and reached an awareness such as to decide voluntarily and with momentum to practice physical activity on a continuous basis.

But what are the differences after all? To make it clear, we present some numbers in order to understand how much the socio-economic and therefore cultural condition affects the propensity to physical activity.

Geographical component
The proposed values are extrapolated from the study on sports in Italy carried out by ISTAT in 2015. Analyzing the macro areas in which the Italian territory is usually distinguished, we see how 40.4% of residents in the Northeast of the country practice sport, against 26% in the South and the Islands.
Sociological component
The family condition, and therefore the social condition, determines important variations: low-income families, traditional families of the province, elderly or unemployed families and families of retired workers position themselves a few points above 20% for the share of members who practice physical activity. On the other hand, the components of nuclei of young blue-collar workers and of silver retirements see this value rise to about 34%, while in the families of executives and office workers it rises to over 44%.

In terms of educational level, 51.4% of graduates, 36.8% of graduates, 21.2% of those with a secondary school leaving certificate and 7.3% of those with a primary school leaving certificate are involved in sport. It should be noted that in each age group the proportion of those who practice sport continuously rather than sporadically is the same and is around 60%.

The more movement you make, the less spending power you have

This last observation should be emphasized because it allows a very important concept to pass, beyond the qualification achieved, when an individual manages to enter the mindset of doing the movement frequency of training becomes the same, the two figures therefore assume the same potential in terms of awareness and lucidity in recognizing the benefits of sport.

What if the opposite were also true? What if practicing physical activity favoured the achievement of a higher level of study and thus a greater awareness? Numerous studies confirm this theory. Exercising not only benefits the body and mind, but also the so-called grey matter. During training in fact increases the flow of blood to the brain and then the more you are trained, the more the flow increases and the better you develop reasoning skills and memory.

Beyond the qualification achieved, when an individual manages to enter into the mindset of making movement the training frequency becomes the same

Sporting and education: two scientific studies

To go into detail, let's take two experiments carried out by two different research studies, one by the University of Illinois on a group of children between nine and ten years of age and the other by the Montreal Heart Institute on a group of adults with an average age of forty-nine years suffering from obesity and cardiovascular disease.

The first study confirms that physical activity is positively correlated to the microstructure of white matter in the brain, scholars explain that children in better shape would have a white matter with different characteristics than those of sedentary: the areas in which it was observed are those that stimulate attention and memory and are essential to connect the different parts of the brain, it is clear therefore a close link between movement and cognitive development in children.

By increasing blood flow to the brain through aerobic movement, they improve cognitive abilities at all ages

In the second study, Canadian researchers subjected a group of people with cardiovascular disease and overweight to physical activity twice a week for a period of four months.  At the end of the program, participants lost weight and inches, but what emerged in the eyes of scholars was the improvement of cognitive abilities in relation to physical changes. These results were not only obtained by movement, but also by cognitive exercises, tests on the storage of symbols and numbers and by observing the oxygenation of tissues during reasoning using an infrared technique.
By increasing blood flow to the brain through aerobic movement, they improve cognitive abilities at all ages. It is therefore crucial to involve most of the sedentary population towards a constant sport practice.

Physical activity for socio-economic improvement

In the light of this consideration, it is interesting to look at the basins characterized by greater social hardship with new eyes, the improvement of the socio-economic condition of some areas may also result from the involvement of residents in sports activities. Moving away from degradation, for example, which has often been initiated by involving inhabitants in sporting activities, now has a dual connotation, encouraging not only the involvement but also the development of cognitive skills.

If, as has been observed, the propensity to attend is the same regardless of the level of education, at the time when the change in lifestyle is achieved, the possibility of loyalty is the same. The great work must be done by trying to move the levers that restrain those who are to be glued to the sofa, trying to offer a strong motivation to start the change.

Over the years, we have observed which trends characterize the propensity to physical activity. The trend since the beginning of the survey does not see an increase in the percentage of people who engage in physical activity, it goes from 62.2% in 1995 to 60.9% in 2015. On the other hand, the share of assets on a continuous basis has increased from 17.8% in 1995 to 24.4% in 2015 in a constantly growing trend. The number of people who do not practice sport or physical activity has therefore increased, although slightly, with a percentage of 37.8% in 1995, a value that in 2015 is 39.1%. Here a disconnect between sport and education is created, and a continuous and constant increase in the level of training in the population seems to diverge the tendency to carry out physical activity.
The growth in the number of people who reach a high level of education can only be a positive development, as can the percentage increase in the number of people who exercise continuously regardless of cultural level.

Un post condiviso da Technogym (@technogym) in data:

If, as has been observed, the propensity to attend is the same regardless of the level of education, at the time when the change in lifestyle is achieved, the possibility of loyalty is the same. The more individuals will be able to set their daily lifestyle close to sport and the simpler it will be to create a flywheel capable of involving even those who today have a sedentary life.

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