Questioning policy, youth participation and lifestyle sports

Katherine King, Andrew Church

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Young people have been identified as a key target group for whom participation in sport and physical activity could have important benefits to health and wellbeing and consequently have been the focus of several government policies to increase participation in the UK. Lifestyle sports represent one such strategy for encouraging and sustaining new engagements in sport and physical activity in youth groups, however, there is at present a lack of understanding of the use of these activities within policy contexts. This paper presents findings from a government initiative which sought to increase participation in sport for young people through provision of facilities for mountain biking in a forest in South East England. Findings from qualitative research with 40 young people who participated in mountain biking at the case study location highlight the importance of non-traditional sports as a means to experience the natural environments through forms of consumption which are healthy, active and appeal to their identities. In addition, however, the paper raises questions over the accessibility of schemes for some individuals and social groups, and the ability to incorporate sports which are inherently participant led into state managed schemes. Lifestyle sports such as mountain biking involve distinct forms of participation which present a challenge for policy makers who seek to create and maintain sustainable communities of youth participants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-302
Number of pages21
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Leisure Studies on 05/3/2014, available online:


  • lifestyle sports
  • youth
  • policy
  • countryside
  • physical activity


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