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2020-05-23 Downward Wicker and Rasciute_Final.pdf (333.49 kB)

Exploring the role of sport as physical activity for health promotion in Europe

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posted on 2024-02-16, 15:04 authored by Paul DownwardPaul Downward, Pamela Wicker, Simona RasciuteSimona Rasciute

According to the World Health Organization, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) include cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, and diabetes (WHO 2018). They increasingly account for premature mortality globally and in Europe (Vandenberghe and Albrecht 2020; WHO 2018). Physical inactivity is a major cause of NCDs (Blair 2009; Kohl et al. 2012), and reduction of inactivity levels is now a general policy objective. Health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) is identified as a relevant policy target (Foster 2000; Rütten et al. 2013). For adults aged 18-64, these guidelines recommend 'at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or ... at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorousintensity activity' (WHO 2011, p. 1). Public policy emphasis on such health targets has meant that sport policy agencies have changed their traditional objective of promoting sport for its own sake to seeking to contribute to health through promoting physical activity (Bull et al. 2015; Eime et al. 2015) at both country-specific (Department for Culture Media and Sport 2015; Sport England 2016) and Europe-wide levels (European Commission 2019; Kornbeck 2013). Leaving aside the reasons why this has come to be the case, there is a clear logic to considering the role of sport as part of physical activity. For example, sport can be defined as: "all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels (Council of Europe 2001, Article 2, 1a). Moreover, The term "physical activity" should not be mistaken with "exercise". Exercise, is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposeful in the sense that the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective. Physical activity includes exercise as well as other activities which involve bodily movement and are done as part of playing, working, active transportation, house chores and recreational activities. (WHO n.d., para 3)



  • Loughborough Business School
  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

A Modern Guide to Sports Economics


241 - 257


Edward Elgar Publishing


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© Ruud H. Koning and Stefan Kesenne

Publisher statement

This is a draft chapter/article. The final version is available in A Modern Guide to Sports Economics edited by Ruud H. Koning and Stefan Kesenne, published in 2021, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd https://doi.org/10.4337/9781789906530.00020

Publication date


Copyright date



9781789906523; 9781789906530

Book series

Elgar Modern Guides


  • en


Ruud H. Koning; Stefan Kesenne


Prof Paul Downward. Deposit date: 14 February 2024

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