More sports & fitness centers?
Would the availability of more sports facilities lead to better public health?
It would seem obvious that providing more sports facilities would lead to increased fitness and better health among the population. However, there are also several reasons why public health might not improve. In this essay, I will explain why access to sports facilities may not be sufficient to improve our health.
More gyms, stadiums, and fitness centers would certainly be a good thing. First of all, people will not use sports facilities if they are not convenient. After a long day working or taking care of a family, nobody wants to spend a long time driving or commuting to a gym or to swim or play tennis. The closer the facility, the more likely people are to use it. Secondly, having facilities in neighborhoods will encourage friends and families to exercise or play sport together. Playing a sport or getting fit can be more enjoyable with people you know. A third point is that just having sports centers available increases awareness of fitness and health, and this can motivate and encourage people who might not normally use them to join.
However, just having more sports facilities may not be enough. First, the facilities may be too expensive, both to use and to build. Massive stadiums costing governments hundreds of millions of dollars may only serve a few people, and ordinary people may not be able to afford gym or spa fees. Another issue is the need to support people with training, diets, professional sports coaching and goal-setting. Without good organization and professional staffing, many people may visit sports facilities just a few times and give up or do something else more fun. However, the most important thing is changing the mindset of people. Children do what their parents do, and parents do what their friends do. If they are not interested in fitness or sports, the facilities will be underused and a waste of money. Until money is spent on education, people may prefer to play computer games or sit around eating unhealthy food, drinking and smoking.
In conclusion, while I think every school, village and town needs sports facilities, I don’t think that real change can result from just building more sports centers. We need a two-pronged approach which motivates us and our children to become more active and which is affordable and accessible.