Equal opportunities

In the midst of daily worries sport and physical activity is a pleasant way of relaxing and keeping oneself in a good physical condition. Unfortunately, major concerns are clouding sport as well. Global fight against doping seems to be an endless job with ever intensifying anti-doping activities. As director Harri Syväsalmi pointed out in his previous editorial the fight against match-fixing and international crime has become part of the agenda of international sports policy. Anti-corruption activities will most probably take a major share of the resources in the nearest future.

The theme of these articles is “Equal opportunities”. Sport and physical activity have a prominent role in promoting health and wellbeing over the whole life span. Therefore, it is important to recognize effective means of enhancing physical activity in different phases of life. In Finland these questions have been examined among others in elderly people after retirement, children with special needs and immigrants.

Dr. Tuomas Zacheus presents a recent study that aims to give an overall picture of physical activity among immigrants in Finland, the significance of physical activity and sport in the integration process and how the immigrants see their integration process in general.

Dr. Aija Saari is introducing results of her newly presented doctoral dissertation which aimed to examine integration and inclusion in physical activity, in theory and in practice and to evaluate youth sport inclusion processes. Dr. Saari concludes that inclusion needs to be analysed systematically. In many cases inclusion just occurs independently but participation in adapted physical activity may become stigmatic.

Dr. Monika von Bonsdorff is presenting a project aiming to reveal influences of childhood and mid-adulthood personality characteristics on retirement-related intentions in midlife and how perceptions of work strain, work ability, and work history in midlife correlate with health and well-being in old age. The study will present unique data from childhood to retirement and give insights which will help us to understand the processes and factors that contribute to health, participation, and functioning in old age.

Dr. Katja Pahkala is the winner of the Finnish Sport and Exercise Medicine Award for the year 2011. She demonstrated in a population based sample of sedentary young boys and girls that those who increased their level of physical activity most at the age of 13 to 17 years gained largest changes in wall thickness of arteries as compared to their sedentary counterparts. Dr. Pahkala and her colleagues concluded that even a minor increase in physical activity may have a major effect on cardiac health in young adults. This finding gives new evidence and motive for the promotion of sport and exercise especially in early adolescence.

Dr. Mika Vuori informs us of an innovative project “Benchmarking the Local Health Promotion Capacity” where a harmonized, systematic follow-up and benchmarking model for health promotion has been developed. The model can be used to cover all municipalities and municipal services in Finland.  Even though large and small municipalities differ significantly in many respects it is possible to create a tool for the assessment of organizational health promotion capacity and activity. This tool may be used to support local governments' planning, management and evaluation of its health promotion work.

This news forum for sport science in Finland was introduced in June this year and has now found its role as an essential part of the activity of the Finnish Society of Sport Science.  In 2012 we aim to accumulate this website with news continuously. In addition special theme articles will be published regularly.  I wish you all Merry Christmas and A happy New Year 2012!


Kari L. Keskinen, PhD, PT

Executive Director

Finnish Society of Sport Sciences