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10.23 Sport in Germany (1)

An active sporting nation?
Sport pro GesundheitIn 2001, the number of Germans who were members of the country's 87,000 sports clubs was estimated at 26.8 million - or one in three German citizens and an increase of three million people on the 1990 figure. The actual figure may be closer to 18 million German club members however, as some sportsmen and sportswomen belong to more than one club whereas others are merely passive or social members.

This figure is even more impressive if you consider the fact that only 29% of German sportsmen and sportswomen play their sports "primarily in a club" (der Sportverein). 58% of people regularly participating in sport do not belong to any organisation, - i.e. they cycle or jog -, and another 12% use a commercial facility such as a fitness centre (das Fitness-Center) or a dance studio (das Tanzstudio). In fact, the number of fitness centres has more than doubled since 1985, rising from 2,800 to 6,500.

Acording to a report commissioned by the Institut für Demoskopie in Allensbach in March 2001, 63% of Germans claim to take part in sporting activities, and 34% do so at least once a week.

A German fitness centre

The German government is becoming increaingly concerned about the health of the 37% of Germans who do not take part in any sporting activity. Not least for financial reasons - medical research has shown lack of exercise and physical work to be one of the reasons for the increase in cardiovascular diseases, and about 30 per cent of medical costs incurred in Germany result from heart, circulatory or metabolic disorders.

This is a major problem in an ageing population, as 52% of German Bewegungsmuffel (= people who don't like exercise) are aged fifty or over, and only one in ten German adults between the age of 35 and 60 does two hours or more of moderate sporting activity. Younger generations are equally threatened by an increasingly sedentary lifestyle characterised by long periods of being seated in front of a computer or television screen.

Keeping Germany fit is the aim of the Deutscher Sportbund (= German Sports Federation), the umbrella organisation for Germany's 16 state sports federations and numerous other specialised sports associations. In terms of numbers, it is the largest organisation in Germany. Under the motto "Sport für alle" (= "Sport for all") the DSB has launched several campaigns to increase mass participation, starting in the seventies with the construction of "Trimm-dich-Pfade", keep-fit trails in parks and woods. Their current campaigns include Sport Pro Gesundheit (= "Sport For Health") and Richtig Fit (= "Properly Fit"), both of which offer courses and information on how best to use sport to stay fit and healthy.

Exercises on a German Trimm-dich-Pfad

Web links  Web Links  Web links

The Voyage - Sport An introduction to sport in Germany with many good links from the bilateral project the voyage: british german connection.
Sport in Germany An article in English by Steffen Beitz for Inter Nationes about sport in Germany.
Fit durch Sport Read the report of the Institut für Demoskopie on the level of sporting activity in Germany. Acrobat reader required.
Deutscher Sportbund (DSB) Visit the homepage of the German Sports Federation.
Richtig Fit The health awareness site of the German Sports Federation encourages Germans to stay fit through sport.

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