French sports practice at half mast

It was the time of great hopes, of rich reflections on “the world after”. Containment helping, France discovered a desire to run on the tarmac of cities, to perfect his abs in apartment. A sudden conversion to essential physical activity? The promoters of healthy sport applauded the change. And fingers crossed: as long as it lasts.

→ INVESTIGATION. The enthusiasm for home sports quickly waned

It didn’t last. The latest edition of the sport and health barometer, carried out for ten years by Ipsos on behalf of the French Federation of Physical Education and Voluntary Gymnastics (FFEPGV), has just been published and underlines it: the sporting practice of the French is at half-mast. Last year, 66% of them declared an activity of at least one hour per week. They were 81% in 2020. And 61% also claim to have a more sedentary lifestyle than before the health crisis.

Back to “the world before”

“We find almost the figures for 2019, notes Marilyne Colombo, the president of the FFEPGV. Jogging exploded during confinement, and people also discovered online sport, but they mostly lacked the social bond linked to a practice in a club or indoor. With the second confinement and the massive use of telework, physical activity at home has waned, the craze has fallen. “

Thierry Doll, president of the France Active union, which represents more than a third of the 4,500 sports halls in the country, notes for his part that the obstacles to the practice were not lacking in 2021: “We were only able to reopen in June after eight months of closure, then the health pass limited the recovery, and since the fall, the arrival of the Omicron variant has maintained an anxiety-provoking climate which is slowing down the return of our customers. Since the start of the September school year, we have seen a 35% drop in attendance. The atmosphere is leaden and everything is complicated. “

→ READ. The modest advances in prescription sport

Undoubtedly we should not be too delusional about a boosted practice in 2020. “Behaviors change over the long term and not in three months, notes Martine Duclos, head of the sports medicine service at Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital and president of the National Observatory for physical activity and sedentary lifestyle (Onaps). But we can still welcome a change in habits on active travel, with a 25% increase in the use of cycling or walking, which people do not necessarily consider a sport. Wrongly. And perhaps we need to change our discourse, avoiding an additional injunction in this period which counts a lot: it is not a question of summoning people to take up intensive sport, just of explaining the benefits of half-hour daily activity. “

The ravages of sitting time

All studies repeat it: twelve hours of sitting time on average per day for adults is too much. “We are faced with this problem of sedentary lifestyle as we were faced with global warming ten years ago: too many people are still unaware of it, insists Professor François Carré, cardiologist in the sports medicine service of the Rennes University Hospital. So we have to repeat it: walking ten minutes three times a day or walking up floors should become as automatic as brushing your teeth. At the start of the year, we can see as always that the first good resolution of the French is to get back to sport. Awesome! But this often remains wishful thinking, and it is not what is required! We just need to move more, especially among young people. “

→ MAINTENANCE.“Sitting too long is not good for your health”

Here again, the studies are formal. The latest Onaps survey in 2021 reveals that confinements have drastically reduced the physical activity of children. “Two-thirds of children in primary school are below the recommended health thresholds in this area”, Martine Duclos is alarmed. “There are 2% of diabetics under the age of 18 more each year, insists François Carré. And being too sedentary at college age increases the risk of heart attack in your thirties. “

Cardiologists from the Georges-Pompidou European Hospital recently published a letter on the sudden death of children under 30 in Île-de-France. And the first cause is myocardial infarction. “It is time to put in place a real prevention policy which is unfortunately not in our culture, concludes Martine Duclos. Our health care system is at the end of its rope, and this is also an important economic issue. For Paris 2024, the Organizing Committee has taken up this subject. I hope actions will follow. “


A subject of debate for the presidential election?

This is the dearest wish of Professor François Carré, tireless activist in health sport. “For the time being, I do not see any candidates tackling this subject which is nevertheless a major public health problem. And overall, we cannot say that the public authorities really put the emphasis on preventing sedentary lifestyle. Do you see campaigns equivalent to the fight against tobacco? Alas! no. The Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, and Tony Estanguet, President of Paris 2024, have launched the “30 minutes of daily physical activity at school” elementary campaign. Very good, but it is limited to voluntary schools! There is still a long way to go. “


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