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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2021 August;61(8):1042-51

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.21.12721-5

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

The innovative role of Olympic sports and exercise in the promotion of health, gender equality and sustainability: past achievements and future challenges

Paolo E. ADAMI 1 , Ken FITCH 2

1 Department of Health and Science, World Athletics, Monaco, Monaco; 2 School of Human Sciences, Sport, Exercise and Health, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia



Olympic sports represent, through their athletes, an iconic source of inspiration and ambition for everyone. During every Olympiad we are reminded of the astonishing achievements that can be reached through hard work and dedication. Nevertheless, these performances are very far from the reality of those being physically active to improve their health and fitness. The technological development that humanity has gone through in the last couple of centuries, has engineered physical activity out of our lives and dramatically altered our lifestyle, leading to the development of diseases that were not so prevalent. Exercise has become an integral part of our lives and it is now regarded as a medicine to prevent and counteract chronic conditions that are associated with a sedentary lifestyle. In this context Olympic sports can play a key role in attracting people to be physically active as well as leveraging on city governments to allow, not only sport participation, but a global active lifestyle. Therefore, International Sports Federations (ISF) have a central position in ensuring sports are in line with the changes occurring in society as well as fostering its natural evolution. Examples of this evolution are gender equality and sustainability, topics that finally are becoming central in ISFs as they have been in society for decades. Therefore, Olympic sports should acknowledge the prominent role they have in society and contribute to its further development by promoting socially relevant actions.


KEY WORDS: Exercise; Gender equality; Program evaluation

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