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UPFRONT» Sport & Fitness


Promoting Physical Activity: Can Elite Athlete Performances Inspire Us to Get Off the Couch?


BY DR. JULIA ALLEYNE W


hen Usain Bolt crosses the finish line at lightening speed, will the guys watch- ing in the sports bar be


motivated to go for a jog? Or will seeing Clara Hughes skate a medal-winning performance–where you can’t help but notice the definition of her thighs–help persuade the weekend warrior on the couch to buy a gym membership? These are questions that have inter-


ested public health departments, physi- cal education specialists and health ad- ministrators for years. There may be a role for Games or-


ganizing committees to increase the benefits of sport through promotion of community-based physical activity. Since government funding is used to finance large international multi-sport events like the Olympics, Paralympics and Pan American Games, the incen- tive would be healthier lifestyles for the general public. In 2010, the International Olympic


Committee (IOC) signed an agreement with the World Health Organization to encourage the promotion of healthy active communities through sport. Is it this simple? No. We have a long way to go in understanding how to promote physical activity through sport spec- tacles and to then prove that it actu- ally works. Early indicators point to- wards the importance of a strategically planned physical activity promotion campaign prior to and during Games to spark interest and initiate action. In 1983, the IOC initiated a program


called “Sport for All” (www.olympic. org/sport-for-all). It is a movement that targets physical activity promotion through conferences, tools, partner- ships and awareness campaigns aimed at the general public and children. In Canada, Sport for Life (www.ca- nadiansportforlife.ca) has a model to


14 Fitness Business Canada March/April 2014


Canadian trampoline gymnast Rosie MacLennan wins gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games


“We have a long way to go in understanding how to promote physical activity through sport spectacles and to then prove that it actually works.”


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