Byen - forum for fysisk aktivitet

  • Thomas Skovgaard
  • Jens Troelsen


The town – a forum for physical activity

In recent years there has been increasing recognition both among health professionals and politicians that physical inactivity is a significant health problem. Attention has, therefore, been directed towards making the population more physically active in everyday life. Attempts have been made to do this directly by setting up campaigns and by setting in motion actual action plans for inactive individuals. Indirectly, however, there have also been attempts to increase physical activity by establishing frameworks which invite people to be physically active. It is examples of these indirect measures that form the central focus of this article. The majority of the world’s population live in urban communities, and there will, therefore, be substantial health gains in organising urban space in ways that appeal to physical activity. In Denmark the demo project “Odense – The National Cycle City of Denmark” is a good example of the ways in which it is possible indirectly to stimulate Danes to increased physical activity in their everyday lives. Over a fouryear period Odense has managed to increase the number of its cycle trips by 20% so that by the close of the project every fourth trip took place by bike. Half of the new trips were made by former car drivers, so that in a real sense for this group of drivers physical activity has become a prerequisite in meeting their day-to-day transport needs. In the transportation area alone the potential for increasing physical activity in urban areas is enormous. In a European context half of all trips of less than 5 km take place by car. It has to be assumed, then, that what prevents drivers from cycling is not the extent of the transport need but to a degree at least the infra-structural framework that favours the car. If urban space is organised so that, among other things, it is inviting for the walker or the cyclist – and there are Danish, Italian and Dutch examples of this – then the urban population will in all probability also choose to be more physically active in their daily lives. This article makes the assessment that public health would be given a boost if the town were to a larger extent made a forum


Thomas Skovgaard

Thomas Skovgaard, cand.scient. ph.d., adjunkt ved Syddansk Universitet, IST-Folkesundhedsvidenskab.

Jens Troelsen

Jens Troelsen, cand.scient. ph.d. post.doc. ved Institut for Idræt og Biomekanik, Syddansk Universitet.

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