Merchant, J., Griffin, B.L. and Charnock, A. (eds) Sport and Physical Activity: The Role of Health Promotion . Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan , 2006 £18.99 xxii + 300pp . ISBN 978-1-4039-3412-3 (pbk)

This book draws together and applies the main theories, models and approaches in health promotion to the area of sport and exercise. The rationale for the text is the needs of students engaged in sports development programmes and the contribution that health promotion can make, in a context where physical activity and related health initiatives are increasingly based on individual responsibility. It draws upon approaches from a range of disciplines, developing the reader's understanding of the field from both academic and practitioner perspectives. While the text is primarily written for students and practitioners in the area of sports and health promotion, it will also be of interest to other students studying sport/exercise within a range of disciplines, for example sociology, social policy, social exclusion, and psychology, who are interested in the wider context and application.

The book is well structured in four parts with 19 chapters written by academic and practitioner specialists. Its aim is to balance theory and practice using some engaging case studies from the health promotion field. Each part of the book provides a building block, starting with theoretical approaches, before examining sport, exercise and health promotion at the individual, community and society levels. The first part introduces the reader to definitions, models and approaches in health promotion and sport. Chapter 1 discusses the contested subject of health and well-being; Chapter 2 the prominence of sport in society, outlining models of sport and sporting frameworks for excellence; Chapters 3 and 4 focus on the planning, management and evaluation of a sport and physical activity health promotion project. Chapters 1 and 3 start with a conversational-style dialogue between two colleagues (the chapter authors) to introduce the issues and debates before presenting the various models and definitions.

In Part 2 the focus switches to the health of the individual with chapters on physiological effects, individual lifestyle and cultural choices, and psychological aspects. Chapter 5 looks at the physiological effects of physical activity across the lifespan. Chapter 6 examines drug use in sport, which while of relevance sits a little uneasily with its focus on managing drug misuse at the more competitive rather than recreational end of the sports continuum. Chapters 7 and 8 concentrate on social and psychological aspects of sporting, leisure and identity in modern society, and psychological aspects of motivation in healthy lifestyles. The final chapter in this part of the book examines issues of home-based exercise on prescription, as a case study.

In Part 3 there are six chapters on healthy communities, looking at sports and exercise promotion initiatives that are inclusive across the lifespan, addressing issues of ethnicity and disability, gender and young people. The four chapters of the book's final Part situate sport within the wider context of health in society, addressing issues of social exclusion and inequalities, researching levels of physical activity and global health promotion. An example of the policy approaches of the Australian government is included.

This is a very thoughtful book that fulfils its stated aim of bringing together the fields of health promotion and physical activity and sport. The writing style, format and length of the chapters vary, which is an almost inevitable outcome in an edited book; while it is not particularly problematic, a concluding commentary for each part would have been useful. The book introduces the core themes/issues and does also convey the complexities involved. The authors balance between academic debate and providing thoughtful practical examples and advice for practitioners, but there was perhaps a missed opportunity to provide suggested readings for those readers interested in developing their knowledge further. For example, Chapter 4 on Research and Evaluation would have been greatly enhanced by recommended further reading on evaluation research, and some discussion of ethical issues in the research process. The book would have also benefited from a final concluding chapter by the Editors to bring together some of the complexities of the debates. They acknowledge that contributions from other disciplines have been omitted and make specific reference to the built environment and regeneration as an example. Inclusion of this particular topic would have been particularly beneficial given the aim of the book.