Background: Many factors influence participation in sport and Physical Activity (PA). It is well established that socio-economic status (SES) is a critical factor. There is also growing evidence that there are differences in participation patterns according to residential location. However, little is known more specifically about the relationship of PA participation and frequency of participation in particular contexts, to SES and residential location. This study investigated the relationship of participation, and frequency and context of participation, to SES and location.
Methods: Three aspects of participation were investigated from data collected in the Exercise, Recreation and Sport Survey (ERASS) 2010 of persons aged 15+ years: any participation (yes, no), regular participation (<12 times per year, ≥ 12 times per year) and level of organisation of participation setting (non-organised, organised non-club setting, club setting).
Results: The rates of both any and regular PA participation increased as SES increased and decreased as remoteness increased. However, participation in PA was SES- or remoteness-prohibitive for only a few types of PA. As remoteness increased and SES decreased, participation in many team sports actually increased. For both SES and remoteness, there were more significant associations with overall participation, than with regular participation or participation in more organised contexts.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates the complexity of the associations between SES and location across different contexts of participation. Nevertheless, it seems that once initial engagement in PA is established, SES and remoteness are not critical determinants of the depth of engagement.