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- Developing sport policy in the EU: strengthening physical activity as a tool for individual and collective well-being
Today medicine recognises and accepts with no doubt that physical activity plays an important role in having good health. The benefits of physical activity are multiple when it comes to reducing the risk of obesity, heart disease, strengthening skeletal muscle, and improving mental and psychological well-being. Unfortunately, in many developed or developing countries, an increase in the more sedentary way of life is obvious. In fact, every day we are witnessing a significant reduction in physical activity, including from early pre-school age. However, an objective measurement of today’s lifestyle appears difficult to obtain, due to vague points of reference for what “healthy physical activity” (or basic level) should be for children and adolescents. The Directorate of Sports of Albania, in collaboration with the Institute for Educational Development and the Regional Directorate of Education of Tirana city, conducted a study, aimed at collecting data on the levels of daily physical activity of children aged 7-8, referring to a wide range of contexts in order to obtain concrete indicators. A questionnaire was diffused and completed by parents of children from both city centre and suburban schools. The data collected from this study served as a starting point for the Directorate of Sports in the Ministry of Education and Sports, to design some of its most important initiatives to improve the level of physical activity for pupils. Based on the survey data, the Directorate of Sports has started different projects which were considered priority and are supported by the Government of Albania. These include the re-evaluation of physical education and sports in educational institutions as a subject in the national curriculum and as an extra-curricular activity; an increase in the amount of physical education (PE) lessons to 3 hours per week; the inclusion of “Health education” as an option offered to pupils; more frequent training sessions for PE teachers; the founding of the School Sports Federation with organisational and financial support for its activities; and a re-vamp of facilities in different educational institutions across the country, which will ensure better physical and school sports activities for pupils and for the wider community.
A full analysis of the data survey can be found on the website of the EPAS website www.coe.int/epas