The Commonwealth Games may put some people off physical activity rather than inspiring them, a health expert has warned.
In an interview with Holyrood magazine Dr Jason Gill, coordinator of the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Diet, Exercise and Lifestyle (IDEAL) said it is important to make the distinction between sport and physical activity and questions the emphasis being placed on the “inspirational effect” of the Commonwealth Games coming to Glasgow in 2014.
He said: “I think trying to make activity synonymous with sport, so the idea that the Commonwealth Games coming to Glasgow, the Olympics coming to London are going to make people more active, I’m not sure that that is necessarily the right message.” Watching elite athletes such as Paula Radcliffe win a marathon has “zero relevance to the average person,” he said.
“The evidence from the Sydney Olympics was that physical activity didn’t go up, it actually went down slightly. I know that politically it is quite a nice message to say that bringing these big sporting events is going to make people more active, but when you actually look at the evidence there is not really that much to support that.” What it can do is provide a catalyst for a lot of other initiatives to take place at the same time, he said.
“So, for example, the Olympics are coming so we are going to build more cycle lanes. So it might work in that way by introducing a whole host of other initiatives to increase physical activity alongside the sporting event and that can probably work.
“But the act of just bringing the Olympics to London or just bringing the Commonwealth Games to Glasgow, the evidence is that that probably doesn’t work.”