Access to content

Improving health through sport

Improving health through sport
le 27 January 2020

The current lack of exercise in people’s lives is striking; half of the adult population in France has said that they do no regular exercise, and 4 out of 10 children spend over three hours a day looking at screens. This issue affects all sections of the population across the entire country. For Paris 2024, getting more people in France moving is more than a target — it was a driving force in the creation of our project. Giving sport a central role in French people’s daily lives is particularly important in light of the benefits it offers and the health risks currently presented by their inactivity.

This inactivity has consequences, as 20% of teenagers and 6 out of 10 adults are overweight. The issue also has repercussions for the economy; the social cost of obesity is estimated at €20 billion per year, and spending related to excess weight represents 5% of total health care expenditure in France.

Paris 2024 gets moving

Paris 2024 is making its contribution by taking on an important role as an accelerator of projects. According to Tony Estanguet, “Paris 2024 is a unique opportunity to get everyone in France moving. We have to create a collective sense of awareness. We must then create connections between the people who, together, can bring about real change: athletes, teachers, coaches, doctors, HR managers, urban planners, etc.”

To raise awareness, Paris 2024 is teaming up with the French National Observatory for Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour to shine a light on the benefits of exercise.  We are also working with the Pour une France en forme (Getting France in shape) group to propose actions that fight effectively against a sedentary lifestyle.

Sport can change lives

These initiatives are essential given the proven benefits sport provides for health, and particularly how it reduces the risk of diabetes, depression, breast cancer and stroke.

Exercice and sports can reduce the risk of :

  • type 2 diabetes by 58%,
  • depression by 30%,
  • breast cancer and stroke by 25%
  • colon cancer by 24%.

Karine is an adviser for the para kayak commission and regional committee for adapted canoe and kayak sports in Brittany, who used sport to get back on track after cancer.

Sport is good for your social life, getting your confidence back, and reaching out to other people. Cancer chips away at your spirit. Often you just want to close yourself off from the world. But sport helped me look at my body differently and get familiar with it again. And it’s a way of having a laugh with friends — we all have fun, as a group. It’s a way of forgetting about the illness, subduing it for a while. And it helps me recharge my batteries. Since I started doing regular sport, I feel less tired and better mentally. I just feel better — like myself again.”

The importance of sport in our lives cannot be overstated. Of course, Paris 2024 is working to encourage people in France to do more sport where they live out their daily lives.  

Moving more right from school

Getting the whole country moving means including the very youngest. A child’s relationship with exercise is shaped when they are between 6 and 11 years old. The World Health Organization has set out clear guidelines: under-fives should engage in at least three hours of physical activity every day, and children between 6 and 17 years old should exercise for one hour. The role of school is fundamental, particularly given that, for 80% of children, sports at school are their main source of physical activity.

30 minutes of sport every day

Paris 2024 has proposed a number of initiatives in line with the goal of establishing 30 minutes of exercise at school every day. These 30 minutes would get Generation 2024 moving.

Paris 2024 will present the project at 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Week in February in the form of the “Classe Active” trial, which will get 5,000 students from all over France exercising.

As part of a joint initiative between the French government and Paris 2024, a consultation on the development of sports practice in primary education will also be held at the beginning of 2020, following a decision made by the Interministerial Delegate for the Olympic and Paralympic Games on 4 November 2019. Encouragement is essential to ensure the success of initiatives such as those organised at Olympic and Paralympic Week, which are an excellent way of getting students moving by uniting them around the values of sport and inclusion.

Bringing sport to towns

There are currently multiple obstacles stopping people from practising sport in their towns — almost a third of towns and villages in rural areas have no sports facilities. And with 70% of workers driving to their workplace, factors such as accessibility and poor-quality infrastructure also prevent people from exercising. Improving and restructuring sports services in towns is an issue that must be urgently addressed. Paris 2024 is taking action on that front.

Starting in 2020, Paris 2024 will fund the establishment of sports activities in the public space by collaborating with local clubs, as well as new facilities in the Greater Paris Region and Seine Saint Denis, in cooperation with the relevant regional authorities.

This commitment is also embodied by the structures being built for the Games, such as the Olympic and Paralympic Village. Paris 2024 consulted a group of experts on the concept of active design, a way of designing spaces so that they encourage physical activity, and its use in the world of sport. The group’s conclusions facilitated the inclusion of active design as part of the specifications given to the groups that applied to create the village.

Getting moving at work

In France, employees spend 42 hours at their place of work every week — more than anywhere else. At Paris 2024, we strongly believe that everyone should be able to practise sport in the workplace and that it would even be beneficial to companies. To encourage this, Paris 2024 has proposed a lighter tax rate where sport can be practised at work. We took a firm step towards this commitment in June 2018 when we invited all French trade unions, for employees and employers, to sign the Paris 2024 Social Charter. From 2020, Paris 2024 will, in association with French employer organisation MEDEF, develop an annual evaluation of sport at work in order to highlight best practices.

Paris 2024 would also like to lead the way for very small, small and medium‑sized businesses, which employ more people than any other kind of organisation in the country, by introducing incentives to encourage them to get involved.