Original Articles

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


The main aim of the paper is to show the role of sport sector in creating Health Promotion for Elderly People (HP4OP) policies and programs and institutional condition to do so.  The mechanisms of integration physical activity (institutions accountability, financial and resources settings) into Health Promotion and Health Promotion for Elderly People are analyzed. Physical activity in this paper relates to all kinds of physical movement undertaken in both institutionalized way (e.g. membership in a sport club) and as a part of private actions of leisure time (e.g. nordic walking with friends). Paper’s frame is based on two approaches to physical activity in health promotion: HEPA (health enhancing physical activity) and Healthy ageing.

In the paper sport and physical activity is scrutinized in all this existing relation to HP4OP. As:

-       part of ideal model of high quality life of elderly people (“Healthy Ageing” approach)

-       tool of achieving optimal health state

-       treatment, healing method

-       tool of social inclusion and wider activation goals for old people (average with age people are more likely to be excluded from different aspects of social life)

The main data resources for the paper come from: official documents from EU levels from 2005 (to observe direction of change in role of sport in EU public policy) to 2015, WHO reports and polls results (from several years to see the trend), evaluations from sport projects directed to elderly people  - realized after 2010, reports from international projects dedicated to elderly people with physical activity as implementation tool and sport projects directed to elderly people (not necessarily exclusively). Despite literature review, we undertook questionnaire research (conducted in European Pro-Health 65+ project’s countries) and in-depth interviews with national experts from sport sector.


Rising role of sport can be observed in EU policies for last 10 years. There are dozens of documents, recommendations and reports which highlight how crucial role well managed sport-for-all (grassroots sport) can play in health promotion and HP4OP especially. From 2005 Health Enhancing Physical Activity model and notion is promoted and implemented by states, some sport federations and sport clubs. Also Healthy and Active Aging (EU and WHO policies paradigms) include physical activity as one of the policy and intervention pillars.


Effective change of daily habits– especially of citizens who are older, less healthy, lonely and in some countries poor as well is still problematic. Creating sport offer for older citizens definitely demands public resources and further development of sport-for-all domain in sport sector. Classical sport classes are not sufficient. To rise level of physical activity among elderly people the whole context of their existence have to be rearranged. Family, peers and health system has to encourage to physical activity, make it possible and user-friendly in house and out-door. Another problem is great differences in sport system models and physical level between EU countries. In all EU strategies and HEPA recommendations these differences are not sufficiently highlighted and sport is described as simple and obvious tool to implement.


A lot EU projects with aim to exchange good practices in HEPA domain (as there are a lot of good projects to be copied and adjusted) took place but to ensure long term legacy of this exchange strong sport for all federations are necessary. 

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.2427/12503

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aprex-20625


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EBPH Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Public Health | ISSN 2282-0930

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.