News Release 

Sport and exercise science graduates contribute £4 billion to the UK economy every year

Exercise research essential to tackling global health challenges

The Physiological Society

Sport and Exercise Science (SES) graduates contribute almost £4 billion a year to the UK economy, supporting almost 150,000 jobs, a new report to be launched in Parliament on Wednesday reveals.

In the first independent analysis of its kind to quantify the impact of sport and exercise science education on the UK economy, it has been found that every £1 invested by a student in their SES education yields £5.50 in higher future wages. Graduates can expect to earn nearly £670,000 more over the course of their working life as a result of their SES education.

The report also finds that economic benefits of SES courses are not limited to students and businesses. Graduates will contribute £7.8 billion to society and the public purse, through higher earnings, added tax revenue and savings to public services.

Sport and Exercise Science is a vital scientific discipline that plays an important role in the health and wealth of the nation. Obesity, diabetes, cancer, depression are all areas in which Sport and Exercise Science research is playing a pivotal role in improving the health of everyone. Research in these areas is preventing and treating conditions and diseases that cost the NHS billions every year and are becoming ever more important as we face the challenges of an ageing population. This week the British Heart Foundation found that the number of people dying from heart and circulatory diseases before they reach their 75th birthday is on the rise for the first time in 50 years, making this research even more important.

The analysis has been carried out by independent economy agency Emsi for The Physiological Society and GuildHE, working with 30 universities across the country and building on data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. It will be launched in Parliament on Wednesday at a reception hosted by the Shadow Education Minister, Gordon Marsden MP, with leading Sport and Exercise scientists, educators and practitioners from the across the UK.

Professor Bridget Lumb, President of The Physiological Society, said: "The findings of this project are clear: Sport and Exercise Science provides an enormous contribution to the UK economy - to the tune of almost £4 billion every year, supporting almost 150,000 jobs. As well as being important for the economy, the research being undertaken in this field is vital to tackling global challenges. Sports and Exercise Science research is improving the quality of life of patients with life-threatening diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. These conditions cost the NHS billions every year and this research will become ever more important as we face the challenges of an ageing population."

Professor Karen Stanton, York St John University Vice-Chancellor and Vice-Chair of GuildHE, said: "Our message to students considering Sports and Exercise Science is that not only will you, on average, earn nearly £670,000 more over your career, but you will be studying in an exciting and dynamic field of science. One of the most striking things is just how many universities and colleges of all shapes and sizes are working in this space. At my own university, students volunteer their time with sports clubs, sport and exercise therapy clinics and smaller businesses, providing valuable support to organisations that would otherwise be unable to afford it at the same time as developing their own skills."



1. Download the report The Key Findings can be downloaded here:

2. Video

A short video summarising the key findings of the report can be viewed here:

3. British Heart Foundation

This week the British Heart Foundation released research showing that the number of people dying from heart and circulatory diseases before they reach their 75th birthday is on the rise for the first time in 50 years. Link to press release:

4. Selected case studies

Exercise interventions in people living with and beyond cancer, Northumbria University

Research at Northumbria University led by Professor John Saxton, in collaboration with clinical colleagues based in Newcastle, Norwich, and Sheffield, is investigating the important role that structured exercise programmes can play in improving the quality and duration of cancer survivorship. Cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon are amongst the most common in western societies and although survival rates are increasing, the physiological impact of these cancers and their treatments is long-lasting.

Current research is focused on (i) the role of exercise training, in conjunction with dietary advice, in reversing adverse body composition changes in hormone-positive breast cancer patients, (ii) exercise interventions for ameliorating the side-effects of prostate cancer and its treatments, and (iii) how exercise programmes prior to surgery can be used to improve fitness and treatment outcomes in colorectal cancer patients. Macmillan Cancer Support predicts that support for people with cancer beyond their initial treatment will cost the NHS at least £1.4 billion every year by 2020. This research is closely aligned with NHS treatment pathways and is helping to build a solid evidence base to support the use of exercise in the clinical and self-management of people living with and beyond cancer.

Reducing the risk of secondary stroke through physical activity, University of Winchester

In partnership with Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Hobbs Rehabilitation, the University of Winchester recently launched the HELP (Health Enhancing Lifestyle Programme) Hampshire Stroke Clinic, a community-based and low-cost programme for those living with the effects of stroke. By providing exercise classes and lifestyle advice sessions from experts and students at the University, the Clinic will increase physical activity for stroke patients, thereby reducing their risk of secondary stroke while improving their physical and social quality of life and reducing the burden on the NHS. The newly-launched programme reports it has already seen more applicants than anticipated, boding well for its effectiveness in reaching a large number of people living with stroke in the local area.

For more case studies, please see the report.

5. About our organisations

The Physiological Society is the largest network of physiologists in Europe, with academic journals of global reach. For over 140 years we have supported the advancement of physiology by promoting collaboration between physiologists around the world, and research that will contribute to a better understanding of the complex functions of living organisms. Research in physiology helps us to understand how the body works; it also helps us to determine what goes wrong in disease, facilitating the discovery of new treatments. The Society is therefore committed to ensuring that the full potential of SES courses in the UK is realised and that departments have the opportunity to showcase their work.

For more information, see: or @ThePhySoc

GuildHE is the official voice of small and specialist higher education in the UK. It champions a diverse higher education sector and its members include universities, university colleges, further education colleges and specialist institutions from both the traditional and private sectors. GuildHE members include some major providers in professional subject areas including art, design and media, music and the performing arts; agriculture and food; education; maritime; health and sports.Members prepare students for success in specialist careers. They offer living and learning in small academic communities and focus on delivering practical research for real-world impact. For more information, see: or @GuildHE

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