Sport sector as a part of public policy for elderly people in selected EU countries

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Background: Physical activity (PA) has proven role in good health maintaining: level of physical activity, sedentary behaviors and cardiorespiratory fitness are all associated with mortality rates and related to cancer, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity rates, cardiovascular disease. It is increasingly important for successful dealing with ageing societies to incorporate sport sector to public policies focusing on PA. The main aim of the paper is to show the situation and role of sport sector in creating Health Promotion for Elderly People (HP4OP) in several European countries

Methods: A literature review of policy papers, European documents and WHO reports, evaluation reports from existing policies and programs was conducted. The analysis combined strategic documents, grey literature, questionnaire research (conducted in European Pro-Health 65+ project’s countries) and in-depth interviews with national experts from sport sector.

Results: Rising role of sport can be observed in European policies for last 10 years. It is visible in the official documents, strategies, guidelines and recommendations. European Council and European Commission have published over ninety policy documents related to sport and physical activity from 2005. Existing data on physical activity level shows however that rationality and logic of policy papers does not transform into behavioral change among societies. Especially elderly citizens situation in terms of sedentary behavior seems to be dramatic.

Conclusions: Visible discrepancy between guidelines, policy documents, reality and actual human behavior requires governments, policymakers and other institutions to undertake more effective actions towards enabling elderly people being active on a daily basis. Sport sector resources can be used in these efforts but under several conditions: further development of HEPA (Health-Enhancing Physical Activity) approach within sport federations and sport clubs, more funds dedicated to development of sector organisations, creation of precise policy assessment tools dedicated to sport interventions and adjusted to each country context, incentives systems for sport organizations to be focused in sport for all programs.


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