SSIRG team attracts funds to study social benefits of sport for older adults

Four members of SSIRG, Craig Hall, Alison Doherty, Angela Schneider and Glen Belfry, were awarded a two-year $20,000 grant from the Faculty of Health Sciences in the most recent Emerging Team Grant competition. The objective of the research is to determine what benefits adults aged 65+ obtain by participating in competitive sport. It is hypothesized that these older adults will report enhanced physical, psychological, cognitive, and social benefits from Masters sport participation.

Researchers have now demonstrated the benefits obtained by older adults from leading a physically active lifestyle (e.g., exercising) and have made physical activity recommendations. However, Masters athletes systematically train for, and compete in individual and team sports specifically designed for older adults. A strong case for Masters athletes being exemplars of successful aging has been forwarded, but research to date has focused on the physical domain. Successful aging is multidimensional and little is known about the psychological, cognitive, and social benefits of Masters sport participation. Do adults aged 65+ perceive any greater benefits (physical, psychological, cognitive, social) from participating in competitive sport compared to less structured, non-competitive physical activity (e.g., exercising)? If this proves to be the case, there are important health and performance implications for individuals and Canadian society.