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In this topic, you will develop knowledge and understanding of the benefits of participating in physical activity and sport to health, fitness and well-being through the following content. The topic guide will be linked here.

Health and Well-being

Health and Well-being

Physical, Emotional and Social Health

Health is defined as a state of complete emotional, physical and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.

Participating in physical activity can improve health physically, emotionally and socially.

Physical Health

Physical health has to do with the body. Through improving components of fitness, health will be improved and health risks will be reduced. This can be done by doing exercise.


All the following statements are to do with an improvement of physical health:


I have improved my cardiovascular fitness.

My posture is better

My speed is faster

I can lift heavier weights.

In the long run, the eleven components of fitness will improve because of you continuing to practice/improve them. For example, cardiovascular endurance may improve because a long-term effect on the cardiovascular system is increased stroke volume which means the heart is more efficient at supplying the working muscles with oxygen during both exercise and rest.

Emotional Health

Emotional health has to do with how participation in physical activity and sport can improve emotional/psychological health and how these benefits are achieved.

All the following statements are to do with an improvement of emotional health:

I'm a lot more confident

When I play, I feel less stressed

I feel happier

I can let out anger

When participating in physical activity the brain releases endorphins, dopamine (remember them as happy hormones) and serotonin. This makes a person happy and decreases the risk of depression which is the disease that occurs due to either a lack or deficiency serotonin.

Social Health

Social health has to do with how participation in physical activity and sport can improve relations with other people and how these benefits are achieved.


All the following statements are to do with an improvement of social health:


I have made new friends

My communication skills are a lot better

I work better in a team 

I work well with my team and have a sense of belonging

Taking part in sport and physical activity can improve your social health by enabling you to meet new people, often from different backgrounds, which allows you to make new friends. By meeting new people, this may improve communication skills (especially in group activities) as you would have to talk to your peers in order to excel in your activity.

Impacts of Lifestyle Choices


Lifestyle Choices

Lifestyle choices are based on the decisions we make regularly. It can be defined as the choices we make about how we live and behave that impact our health.

They can be categorised into four areas:

1) Diet

If you have a healthy diet, you will have:

  • Better energy levels

  • Better vital supplies of nutrients, keeping a healthy immune system and fighting off illnesses.

  • Reduced risks of health conditions.

  • Reduced stress levels, which improves sleep patterns.

If you have an unhealthy diet, you will have:

  • A lack of nutrients leading to conditions such as osteoporosis.

  • An increase in weight and body fat.

  • Possibly a lower quality of sleep.

2) Physical Activity Levels

If you live an active life, it will:

  • Lower the risk of disease.

  • Lower the risk of mental illness.

  • Boost self-esteem.

  • Increase the quality of sleep and energy levels.

  • Improve levels of fitness.

If you have an inactive life, it could:

  • Increase your risk of disease.

  • Decrease self-esteem.

  • Decrease muscle mass, overall strength (muscular atrophy) and energy levels.

3) Work/Rest/Sleep Balance

Work includes school, employment, sport and physical activity.

Rest is taking time to relax, this includes talking to friends and other things that are enjoyable.

Sleep is important because your mind and body need time to recover from the demands of the day and to prepare you for the next.

A good work/rest/sleep balance will:

  • Improve overall health.

  • Reduce stress and give a better feeling of control in your life.

A poor work/rest/sleep balance may:

  • Increase the risk of depression.

  • Lead to weight gain.

  • Increase risks of illness and disease.

  • Increase stress and anxiety.

4) Recreational Drug Intake


Smoking affects the body in the following ways:

  • It increases the risk of diseases such as lung cancer and bronchitis.

  • It leads to an addiction due to the nicotine

  • It makes you feel tired quicker because it decreases the efficiency of the cardio-respiratory system.


Drinking alcohol affects the body in the following ways:

  • It causes dehydration because it's a diuretic.

  • It reduces muscular and cardiovascular endurance.

  • It decreases coordination, concentration and reaction time.

  • It may lead to weight gain because of the sugar content.

  • It could disrupt sleeping pattern 

  • It could lead to liver damage.

  • It could lead to emotional diseases such as addiction and depression. 

To go over Performance Enhancing Drugs click here

A Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle is a lifestyle with little, irregular or no physical activity. The consequences of this lifestyle are overweight, overfat and obesity issues, increased risk to long-term health, (e.g. depression, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, increased risk of osteoporosis), loss of muscle tone, posture and an impact on components of fitness.


Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

This is a disease in which fatty deposits build up in coronary arteries. If you're sitting, blood flows sluggishly and allows fat to build up. This would lead to high blood pressure. If it rises and stays high, it may strain blood vessels, the heart and other organs.




The main types of diabetes are:

Type 1 - which is inherited and is when the body doesn't produce any insulin

Type 2 - which you can get due to lifestyle choices and is when the body releases little insulin or when cells do not respond to insulin.


Exercise controls blood sugar, it increases insulin sensitivity. This means the body wouldn't need as much insulin to break down carbohydrates. If you have type 2 diabetes and do not react to insulin, the glucose can be used as an energy source during exercise. 


This is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from a loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or a deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.

Studies have shown that weight-bearing activities like walking and running encourage hip and lower bones which make them denser and stronger. 



Loss of Muscle Tone and Poor Posture

Muscle tone can be seen when muscles are in a state of slight tension and ready for action. Regular training tones muscles help to create good posture. When you are standing you use your muscles to maintain posture. If you sit for a long time your back muscles get tight and your abdominals lose tone and soften. 

Good posture helps in specific sporting actions like a serve in tennis.

Impact on components of fitness

A sedentary lifestyle would negatively impact all of the components of fitness, especially cardiovascular and muscular endurance. This is because of the build-up of fat in the arteries which restricts the amount of blood the heart can pump at once, which will then affect muscular endurance as the working muscles will not be able to continue working as they do not have sufficient amounts of oxygen. This could then lead to the person feeling tired quicker and being out of breath.

Nutrition and Hydration

Nutrition and Hydration

In order to maintain a healthy weight, your macronutrient intake should look a bit like this:                          

Carbohydrates are a source of energy (55% on the pie chart). There are two types:

simple carbohydrates – sugars and complex carbohydrates – starches such as pasta, rice and potatoes. Athletes need to consume larger quantities of carbohydrate to fuel their training and performance. 

Proteins are used for tissue growth and repair (20% on the pie chart). Athletes may choose to add protein supplements in their diet in order to increase muscle mass, they tend to do so two hours after training so that they can repair microscopic tears in the muscles (endured whilst training). 

Fats are a source of energy (25% on the pie chart). The four types are:

  1. Monounsaturated (found in olives and avocados)

  2. Polyunsaturated (omega 3 and 6)

  3. Saturated (found in fatty meats and full-fat milk)

  4. Trans fats (found in sweets and other snacks).

Fats are stored under the skin and are essential for health, however, if someone has too much fat it can lead to weight gain. Gaining too much weight can affect performance, depending on their activity. 

Performers/players may have different proportions depending on their activity. 

For example, before a race, an endurance athlete may choose to increase their intake of carbohydrates (carbohydrate loading) in order to increase the amount of glycogen stored in muscle fibres. Athletes 'carbo-load' so that they have a greater amount of energy stores.

Minerals and Vitamins (micronutrients)

Minerals are needed for many processes, eg bone growth/strength, the nervous system, red blood cells and the immune system.

Vitamins are used for bone growth, metabolic rate, immune system, vision, nervous system.

You need small amounts of both vitamins and minerals and the variety of them have different purposes to the body.


Fibre is important to the body to keep cholesterol low and to keep bowels healthy. Examples of foods rich in fibre are: breakfast cereals, starchy foods and carbohydrates 

Energy Balance Equation

To maintain a constant weight, your energy input (measured in calories) must be equal to your energy expenditure (also measured in calories). 

      If energy input and expenditure is equal

You will not gain or lose weight 

If energy input is smaller than your energy expenditure

It may lead to weight loss

If energy input is greater than your energy expenditure


 Water is important to the body for the following reasons:

  • Affects the viscosity of blood (if you are taking part in a sport that requires endurance being hydrated is essential so that the working muscles can get the energy required).

  • It provides lubrication to the joints (if you're dehydrated your joints may stiffen and decrease your ability to take part in physical activity).

  • It helps regulate affects body temperature (when you get hotter you sweat to cool down).

Factors Affecting Weight


Your optimum weight increases the taller you are. Taller people have larger skeletons - this would make their optimum weight higher. Bigger bones weigh more, so height affects optimum weight.

Bone Structure

A person with a larger bone structure would have a higher optimum weight. Healthy bones are dense and heavier - this would also increase an athlete's optimum weight.

Muscle Girth 

As your muscle girth increases, your muscles weigh more. They also become stronger and increase your optimum weight. Men tend to have higher muscle girth than women.


Women have a higher percentage of overall fat.

Whereas men tend to have a larger skeleton and greater muscle mass.

Variation In Optimum Weight

Different sports and physical activities demand different things from the performer. You may perform better in certain activities with specific body compositions. For example, an endurance athlete would most likely be an ectomorph because of the usage of their energy stores, also because they need to carry the least amount of weight along with them to improve their time taken to complete their activity. This means their optimum weight for their sport would be extremely low when considering a marathon runner's muscle girth. Muscle is the heaviest element of the body, therefore a marathon must keep this to a minimum but without negatively affecting performance.


What other examples can you think of for weight variation?

Variation in optimum weight

 It may lead to weight gain

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