Sports Research

Research into sport and exercise yields knowledge about how everybody can play sports and exercise according to their own ability. This applies not just to professional sports but especially to recreational sports as well. We are therefore investing in high-quality and sustainable knowledge, and we encourage efforts to ensure that this knowledge is implemented in practice.

From professional to recreational sports

At ZonMw, we fund a wide range of projects that concern professional sports, exercise and fitness, and that pertain to the strength of sport and exercise in solving societal challenges.

8 Sports Research projects ZonMw has eight current projects within the programme Sports Research .

Sports for everyone

Sport and exercise should be inclusive in nature, irrespective of age, ethnic background, social position or sexual orientation. We fund projects that actively seek to increase inclusiveness in the area of sport and exercise.

Sport and exercise also contribute to a better lifestyle. The positive effect of this on people who are in a vulnerable position is also important. It contributes to health, talent development, social cohesion and can help prevent societal exclusion.

Organising sports for people in vulnerable positions
Through interviews with socially vulnerable groups and professionals, it is examined what the ideal and most appropriate solutions could be to jointly ensure that sports actually activates people.

Involving socially vulnerable adults in sports
This project focuses on the societal value of sports for vulnerable groups. In 4 living labs, research is being done to ensure that these people gain more control over their lives. How do we approach this?

Sport and exercise for disabled people

Disabled people often find it more difficult to meet exercise guidelines and they play sports less regularly. It is important to conduct research into the possibilities to make sport and exercise more accessible for people with a learning disability

WheelPower: pushing wheelchair sports and data science to the limit
The aim of WheelPower is to improve the performance of athletes in their hand-driven sports wheelchair. Through continuous monitoring during training sessions and competitions, the athletes and their coaches can immediately use the results from objective lab and field tests.->

Sport and exercise for people with chronic conditions

Getting enough exercise is important for people with chronic conditions too. ZonMw invest in projects that contribute to a healthy, active lifestyle for people with a chronic condition.

Active lifestyle app for people with Parkinson’s disease
How can you use apps and sensors on a smartphone to help people with Parkinson’s disease to maintain an active lifestyle for an extended period of time?

Active4Life: lifelong exercise via eHealth
How do you inspire chronically ill, low-educated adults and older persons to exercise?

Resilience in sport and exercise

Resilience is an important skill for sportspeople. They experience a range of challenges, such as heavy training sessions and lost matches.

Resilience in case of stress factors
How can sportspeople cope well with the physical and mental stress factors that they are confronted with? In this project, the researchers will work on the resilience of people who play sports.

Children/young people and exercise

Exercise ensures a better development of coordination and motor skills in children. This is how children become more dextrous and supple, for example. Research into the correct exercise interventions for children contributes to a healthy start for lifelong fitness.

This project will investigate the optimal movement patterns for the growth and development of children aged 0 to 4 years.

Volleyballende jongeren

Vmbo sport lab
In December 2022, a consortium started investigating how the exercise and sport participation of young people in vmbo (secondary vocational education) can be sustainably increased so that they also remain active at a later age. The vmbo sport lab consortium is made up of professional practitioners and researchers and has no less than 22 participants.

Deteriorating motor skills due to less exercise
Children and young people are exercising less and their motor skills are deteriorating. How much children and young people exercise and play sports depends on the home situation, neighbourhood and school. In the programme MOOI in Beweging [Exercise well], this is one of the wicked problems in which an answer is being sought to the question: how can we turn the tide? View the wicked problem.

Residents of disadvantaged neighbourhoods play sports less

People with a low income and a low level of education participate in sport and exercise less often than people with a high income and higher level of education. Nearly half of the lowest income groups never plays sports. In disadvantaged neighbourhoods, this issue is a major concern. How can the participation in sport and time invested in exercise be structurally increased in such neighbourhoods? MOOI in Beweging [Exercise well] is looking for the answer.  

Preventing sports injuries 
People can suffer injuries during sport and exercise. We are therefore encouraging the development of more knowledge about how you can prevent these injuries so that fewer people incur costs in the healthcare system, stop playing sports and remain absent from school or work.

Tailored prevention of sports injuries in adaptive sports
Preventing sports injuries is particularly important for people with a disability. How can this be approached and realised?