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Introduction to sport and fitness

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This introductory module builds on your general or professional interest in sport, recreation and fitness. The underpinning concepts covered include the organisation of sport and fitness provision in the UK; the benefits of physical activity; fitness training principles; nutrition; and a range of other contemporary issues. You'll be able to apply your understanding to your own participation in sport or fitness, or to careers such as exercise instruction, sports coaching or PE teaching.

What you will study

This module allows you to engage and develop your knowledge and understanding of key sport and fitness topics alongside developing a range of cognitive and professional skills that will support future study. The module comprises six study topics each covering a different area of sport and fitness. They include: 

  • Exploring Sport and Fitness – introduces the module and the module materials as well as discussing important terms to be used throughout the module such as 'sport', 'physical activity' and 'recreation'. This study topic will also introduce you to the different perspectives through which sport and fitness will be explored throughout this module.
  • What shapes participation in sport and fitness? – explores the factors that influence sport and fitness participation amongst different population groups and encourages you to reflect on what has shaped your own interest and engagement with sport and fitness. Potential barriers and facilitators to participation are identified to help explain current participation trends. This topic will allow you to evaluate sport and fitness provision in your local area as well as gaining a knowledge of the key types of organisations that are responsible for sport and fitness provision. It will provide an introduction to the nature of sport provision.
  • Sport, Exercise, and Physical Activity: What are the benefits? – draws upon a range of research evidence to investigate the social, physiological and psychological benefits of participating in sport, fitness and exercise. This will provide you with a useful introduction to the sociological, psychological and physiological disciplines of sport and exercise.
  • Contemporary Debates in sport and fitness – considers some of the topical debates in sport and fitness such as whether sport is always safe, cheating in sport, the impact of technology on children's physical activity levels, the provision of disability sport, and the role of practice and sports coaching as an art or science. You will use a range of academic and media sources to navigate your way through these lively and interesting topics.
  • Faster, Higher, Stronger: Training for Sport and Fitness – extends your understanding of physiology to examine the components of fitness and how these can be tested and developed using a variety of methods. This study topic will introduce you to core principles of anatomy and physiology, such as the anatomy of the skeletal and muscular systems and energy systems.
  • Eating to Win – considers the role of nutrition in sport and fitness and the application of nutrition to a variety of different sport and fitness situations.

All of the study topics adopt a progressive structure that develops your study skills as well as linking to real-life examples through the use of case studies and AV resources.

You will learn

By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • describe the beneficial effects of physical activity on an individual’s physical and mental health as well the wider benefits to society 
  • identify the key components of fitness and describe the principles and methods used in sport and fitness training to develop these components
  • demonstrate an understanding of the key concepts of nutrition and how they can be applied to sport and fitness performance
  • identify trends of participation among specific groups in sport and fitness and how these can be addressed 
  • demonstrate an understanding of selected debates in sport and fitness and their relevance to sport and fitness settings. 

Entry requirements

This module is a broad introduction to sport and fitness, and no assumptions are made about the knowledge or education you bring to it. As an OU level 1 module, it provides core subject knowledge and develops the study skills required for higher education and distance learning, that also support your progress to modules at OU level 2 and beyond. 

There are no requirements concerning a person’s level of fitness to take the module. There are no activities that require any sort of strenuous exercise; even the activities that involve physical activity may be carried out by a friend, with only the monitoring done by you.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

Online Study Guide and online Reader, hard copy module book, online assessment, and module website.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your assignments, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. If you are new to the OU, you will find that your tutor will be particularly concerned to help you with your study methods. Contact with your tutor will be through the following methods:

  • online tutorials, which we strongly encourage you to participate in since most students find these extremely useful
  • online forum (email conference) within your tutor group
  • personal email or telephone.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E117 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Introduction to sport and fitness (E117) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024 when we expect it to start for the last time. A replacement module is planned for October 2025.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
2 Interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs)
No examination

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