Sport, dance and young people: A systematic review of sport and dance participation in healthy young people (15-24 years) to promote subjective wellbeing

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Daykin N, Dolan P, Grigsby Duffy L, John A, Julier G, Kay T, Lane J, Mansfield L, Meads C, Payne A, Testoni S, Tomlinson A, Victor C

Year of Publication:

What Works Centre for Wellbeing

Publication Type:


This systematic review by the What Works for Wellbeing Centre was carried out to investigate the relationships between subjective wellbeing (SWB) and taking part in sport and dance for healthy young people (15-24 years). Healthy people were defined as those without a condition diagnosed by a health professional. SWB describes wellbeing in terms of the good and bad feelings arising from what people do and how they think.
The focus of this review was agreed through on-going collaborative engagement with UK-wide stakeholders representing policy, commissioning and managing, service delivery, and scholars from both academic and non-academic organisations.

An examination of studies from the past 10 years found limited good quality evidence, and very little conducted in the UK. The review includes published findings from 977 participants across six countries: China, Korea, India, Turkey, Sweden and the USA. The most common form of sport/dance related activity was based on meditative practices (yoga and Baduanjin Qigong). Other physical activities reported included body conditioning, aerobic exercise, dance training, hiphop dance and sports including volleyball, ice skating, Nintendo Wii Active Games.

The study included evidence from recent unpublished reports (grey literature), produced by or for sport and dance organisations since 2013. Participants in the evaluations were both male and female with a mean age between 13-24 years and were engaged in UK-based programmes of sport and dance. Findings illustrate that depending on activity type and delivery mode, taking part is associated with wellbeing improvements connected to social connectedness, pleasure, sense of purpose, confidence, interpersonal skills, happiness, relaxation, creative skills and expression, aspiration and ambition. Taking part was also associated with negative wellbeing connected to concerns about competency and capability.
The evidence in this review provides limited promising findings upon which sport and dance programmes for wellbeing improvement could be developed.

The lack of evidence identified in this review does not necessarily mean that wellbeing benefits are not accrued from taking part in sport and dance. There is scope to build evidence on wellbeing outcomes of sport and dance in healthy young people through well-designed, rigorous and appropriate research methods which are underpinned by relevant theory and use established methods of analysis.

Evidence Type: Systematic Review

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Research Purpose: Discussion / Debate

Context: Community

Art Forms: Dance

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Mansfield L., Kay T., Meads C., John A., Daykin N., Grigsby Duffy L., Lane J., Dolan P., Testoni S., Julier G., Payne A., Tomlinson A., Victor C. (2017). Sport, dance and young people: A systematic review of sport and dance participation in healthy young people (15-24 years) to promote subjective wellbeing.UK: What Works Centre for Wellbeing.