A growing trend that “is worth an Olympic medal”. Because the match is about practicing sports and the prospects open onto a bright future for our Country, not only for the universe of organisations that live under the aegis of CONI. The percentage of Italians over the age of 3 that regularly practice sports in their free time has reached 25.1%: in 2016, in brief, one person out of four practiced sports. If we add to this percentage also those who say they occasionally practice sports, we reach 34.8%. The percentage of people practicing sports has increased by 1.5 points in the last year and by 4.2 points between 2013 and 2016, with an average increase of 1.4 points a year. Overall, between 2013 and 2016, 2 million 519 thousand Italians approached practicing sports.
The figures connected to physical activity – with particular reference to the last four-year period of Malagò’s presidency (Photo by Mezzelani-GMT) – were illustrated with great pride – at the Salone d’Onore – by the President of CONI, and by the President of the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (National Institute of Statistics), Giorgio Alleva. "Today, four years after my election – Malagò said – we talk about the results of a matter which I believe to be vital. Year after year, these figures have confirmed we’re on the right track. It’s like winning an Olympic medal. I put all my efforts into it to reach important goals starting from the territory, touching the various situations first hand, mapping the needs and the critical aspects of the various venues. After so much talking about sports, about sacrifice, about the importance of physical exercise, we can see the results. To know that in 2016 practicing sports has been so popular makes me happy. 1.5 percentage points increase is a significant result. With life expectancy getting longer – moreover – it’s not easy to improve. The ages from 6 to 10 years have recorded a peak, reaching 60% of children practicing sports. In the next four years I believe we will have a margin of improvement to continue to grow, considering that the regions of Calabria, Campania and Sicily are lagging behind and must reverse the trend. We must consider that 11.4% out of 13% of the total people practicing sports in Campania are registered sportsmen, because the rest don’t have access to sports facilities. Sardinia does better than many other regions, in the south there’s the problem of a lack of facilities, of where to practice sports, whereas in the north the authorities even failed to apply for funds from the “Sport e Periferie” project. The South instead has played the role of a lion and I am convinced that thanks to these efforts we shall greatly benefit on the future. In the next four years I am sure we shall improve and surpass also the physical activity average registered in the European Union. We are placed at the ninth place of the rank of people aged 18 to 29 who dedicate at least 150 minutes a week to physical activity, behind Greece but ahead of Portugal and France. Thanks to investments in infrastructures and to the role of sports in schools, I am confident we will improve. And I would like to stress that every percentage point is worth about 200 million and this enables us to prove to the Government has invested well in us. In July we shall have the results of the ISTAT survey on citizens and leisure time, to gather a great amount of information on sports practices of the Italians, the best time to bring together the general assemblies of our world and review the state of the art".
ISTAT’s president, Giorgio Alleva, went into detail in his considerations on the matter. "Physical activity implies the collective wellbeing and it therefore requires an updated picture. The first survey on the practice of sports was made just before the Rome 1960 Games. At the time it was an activity for the few. 90% were male – on one million and 230 thousand people practicing sports – with hunting in first place followed by football. In 2016 there are 14 million 800 thousand people regularly practicing a sport and for the third year running we have positive percentages which are recorded at 25,1%. In the period between 1995 and 2016 we can observe that there is a positive trend amongst the various generations which certifies the acknowledgment of the importance of sports. In the past year there has been a 5% growth in the north and 2.3% in the south. Schools play an important role, as also the family. 5.7% of free time in the under 24 bracket of the population is spent on practicing a sport, an average of 2 hours and 13 minutes a week. The World Health Organization has stated that lack of physical exercise represents the 4th risk factor in mortality, inactivity and/or obesity and concerns 52% of Italians and this shows us that we still have to work to improve. Just a few curious facts: we’re below the European average with regard to time dedicated to physical activity. In Europe we can observe how income plays an important role in dedicating time and space to practicing sports. The field of sports employs about 117 thousand people, 0.5% of the total workforce. We’re in second place in the EU for exports in sport-related products behind Germany. It is important that we invest in monitoring new phenomena connected to sports and boost, through various promotion measures, a regular physical activity among the population in consideration of its importance”.
Sports practice in Italy is increasing, probably also because the message that sport is good for you and is beneficial at all ages, which is spread on a daily basis with increasing frequency. Between 2013 and 2016 practicing sport increases in all age brackets. Increase of over 5 percentage points are recorded amongst the younger age brackets: 18-19 (+7.1 percentage points); 15-17 (+6.4); 6-10 (+5.8); 20-24 (+5) and in the 60-64 (+5). The number of people who regularly practice a sport continues to grow among both men and women, reaching 20.8% and 29.7% respectively, although a gender gap still remains.
Between 2013 and 2016 all statistics by geographic area show an improvement; in particular it is the North West that drives the growth (+5.1 percentage points). In this three year period we have also seen a constant and continuous, albeit contained, growth in the southern regions. In 2016, the first three regions with the greater concentration of people regularly practicing sports were: Trentino Alto Adige (36.2%), Emilia Romagna (31.1%), Lombardia (30.5%), whereas Calabria (16.5%), Sicily (16.5%) and Campania (13.9%) are at the bottom of the regional classification. Furthermore, in 2016 also 39.2% of Italians declared they did not practice any physical activity or sport in their free time, this equates to more than 23 million people who live a pretty sedentary life. Compared to 2013 the percentage of sedentary people has decreased by -2 percentage points. In figures, the physically inactive are about 1 million 70,000 less. In the last years the stabilization of the rate of sedentariness at around 39%, in a Country that continues to progressively age (the old age index went from 151.4 in 2013 to 161.4 in 2016) we can consider this an excellent result.