A new study has suggested that sport could help ensure people make a positive transition into retirement. Carried out by a researcher at the University of Houston, the work is hoped to acted as a catalyst for more research into how sport can help people cope with this milestone life change.
Clinical assistant professor at the university's Department of Health and Human Performance David Walsh conducted the study, which included interviews with more than 250 members of a Texas retirement community. His aim was to discover whether sport has the power to influence a person's development in later life, with previous research demonstrating that it can enhance the development of children and adolescents.
What the interviews revealed was a host of major life events that had been coped with via sport, including career changes, family loss, or children moving away home home.
"These significant transitions required a positive response in order to deal with them, and applying this theory that sport serves as a positive response made sense when a person retires," explained Mr Walsh.
He also found that sport could help with the change from a working life to retirement, particularly as people who played sport felt like they belonged to a community and had more control in their lives.
In addition to hoping his study will pave the way for new research, Mr Walsh suggests it may encourage sports managers to design activity programmes specifically to help people improve their quality of life.
"Sport was found to be a resource-rich system they sought out because of what they thought it could do for them - bring self-confidence, social interaction and physical activity. This can be applied to the transition of retirement," he said.
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