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Leveling the playing field: sports and human development

Leveling the playing field: sports and human development

The opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pylon Chang made me think about the relationship between sport and human development. Despite all the fun and drama, what are the real benefits of the Olympics?

During the Olympics, we should all experience a higher level of civility, based on mutual respect and solidarity. An experience that, if widely appreciated, can inspire the belief that another life is possible. At the Olympics, athletes demonstrate excellence and inspire ordinary people to engage in physical activities that can enrich their lives.

There is a positive relationship between human development and the practice of physical activity.

 Exercise is related to improvements in health, cognitive processes, friendship, productivity (due to better physical and mental health), and overall quality of life. People who exercise tend to live longer and participate more actively in society. This is the main message of Brazil’s National Human Development Report 2017, titled “Movement is life: 스포츠중계 and physical activity for all”.

In Brazil, a recent study shows that the states

who have the highest rate of human development are the people who prefer the population to exercise and participate in sports. For example, in 2015 the Federal District had the highest sports participation rate in Brazil and the highest Human Development Index (HDI) in the country; and in the same year, the State of Alagoas had the lowest HDI in Brazil and the athlete percentage.

The World Health Organization recommends

 that adults receive at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. In 2013, in Brazil, 22.5 percent of the adult population did physical activity and sport sufficient to comply with WHO recommendations. A later study showed that in 2015, nearly 38 percent of Brazilians reported doing physical activity and sports sometime during the year before the survey.

How does Brazil compare to other countries?

In the European Union, 38% of the population practices sport once a week and 60% do so from time to time (with significant differences between countries). In Brazil, the criterion once a week covers 30.5 percent of the population. However, the picture is more complex when we look below average to consider different social groups. Those who earn more, for example, play more sports. People earning more than 5 times the minimum wage participate in sports at 70% more than the national average. In contrast, people earning less than half of the minimum wage have a 17% lower share than the national average.

The data show that white, young, highly educated and socio-economically educated men tend to engage in physical activity and sport more than women, people of color, the elderly, economically disadvantaged or poor people. In fact, inequality in Brazil also affects people’s ability to engage in physical activity and sport, which creates problems.


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