GIOVENTU » Italy - a nation of couch potatoes?

Italy - a nation of couch potatoes?

In the period 2013-2015 a 2.7% increase of people who practice sports was recorded in Italy among all age groups, but especially among children in the range from 6 to 10 years and people who reside in metropolitan centres.


Even though the number of Italians practising physical activity is on the increase, many of them are couch potatoes. the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and national statistics agency ISTAT revealed that more Italians are engaging in sports on a regular basis. The numbers were up from 21.5% of Italians in 2013 to 25.1% last year. The proportion of Italians doing sport occasionally also rose from 9.1% to 9.7%.


In spite of this positive trend more than a third of Italians, 23.1 million people aged three and above, have a sedentary lifestyle and do not practise sport or any other physical activity in their spare time. The problem is particularly acute in Campania, Calabria and Sicily.


The habit of practising sport, in fact, decreases from north to south, ranging from 39% to 23.9%, although the numbers go up again to 26.8% in the Islands. According to the ISTAT survey there is a significant gender difference.  28.3% of men practice sports regularly, while another 11.4% do so occasionally. Only 19.5% of women practice sports regularly and 7.7% occasionally. Only among small children (3-5 years) there is a higher incidence of girls who do sport. Parents who practice sports also influence positively the sport activity of their children. More than 4 out of 5 (82%) of youngsters up to 24 years follow their parents' example. 


Also according to what emerges from the latest edition of the Observatory Nestlé-Adi Foundation, only 1 Italian out of  5 practice sports consistently. 16% say they do sports but not regularly. The numbers are quite far from the the recent Guidelines for 2016-2020 physical activity presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) that recommend at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise for adults, and at least 60 minutes a day of moderate or intense physical activity for children.


Children in the age group 11-13 years seem the most virtuous with about 5 hours per week of physical activity, even if this good rate decreases by half an hour a week year by year as they grow. 


Finally, the report examined the economic aspect of sport: the average expenditure of Italian families is 48 euro per month. 40% of families with two children spend on sport activities for their children, while only 37% of families with three or more children can afford sports.    

Giulia Lombardo

»Back to: GIOVENTU