What could possibly prompt adults to become more physically active? "At the very least they need to have enough spare time and sufficient disposable income and if those two criteria are met people start going in for sports on their own without any prompting," believes Deputy Head of the Analytical Center Gleb Pokatovich. As he opened an expert meeting devoted to this topic Mr. Pokatovich said, "There is no time for waiting and we are going to have to find ways to get people interested in fitness and sports, however, we also need to take care to make sure the mechanisms we use are not distorted by the vestiges of the Soviet-style mandatory requirements to pass the ready for work and defense physical fitness tests."
The expert meeting on the development of possible state regulation mechanisms to boost the physical activity and fitness of the population of the Russian Federation was held at the Analytical Center on instructions of the Government of the Russian Federation. During the expert meeting government officials and experts discussed ways to assess the required investments and possible economic and social effects as well as the current state and required changes to create the requisite conditions to promote physical activity and fitness among the population.
"The issue of state policy in this field is a comprehensive one as it has to do with the work of several ministries, said Analytical Center expert Inna Karakchieva. "Physical activity of the population has an impact on demographics, and the overall health of the nation. In effect, the more physically active people are in general, the longer they live and the better their overall quality of life is."
Inna Karakchieva commented on a number of the findings of a large scale study conducted by the Analytical Center into the situation in Russia and the experience of other countries. Thus, the study found that on the whole the federal government's spending on sports and fitness increases every year, however, the spending on mass sports and fitness has been falling. There is a similar trend in the spending of regional governments. Meanwhile, while the physical activity and fitness of children are improving, those of adults are falling every year.
According to Russia's Deputy Sports Minister Marina Tomilova, new forms of motivation need to be found for people aged 30 and more since in that group only 21% of the total population of the country do sports regularly and in the age group of older than 55, only 4% do sports on a regular basis. "We have to submit proposals by August 31, we don't have much time," Ms. Tomilova noted.
Vaniamin Kaganov, Aid to the Deputy Chair of the Government of the Russian Federation Olga Golodets, noted that under a presidential decree by 2024 the share of the population involved in sports and fitness on a regular basis must increase to 55%. "55% basically means everyone who can walk, meaning that the tasks we're facing now are completely new," Mr. Kaganov said. "We need to develop and adopt new measures and these must be comprised not only of traditional time-tested mechanisms but also completely innovative solutions. This requires a systems-based approach and it's the kind of work that we're starting out on with this meeting and that we're going to continue by bringing in a broad range of experts and it may very well be that eventually physical activity, fitness and sports may become yet another national project."
During the meeting the participants shared the ideas of how to get employers more interested in promoting fitness and sports among their employees, how to use off-budget funds and others. The Analytical Center will be accepting proposals from experts for another week.