Why in your experience do even health insurance companies find it difficult to implement concepts that encourage more physical activity in their own offices? Who do we have to approach and persuade in order to achieve the long-due volte-face?
Often it’s your own backyard that you clear up last. And the same goes for health insurance companies. They indeed discovered the benefits of corporate health-boosting programmes. But not necessarily for their own gain, but as a marketing concept. The importance of these programmes is vastly underestimated by health insurance companies. As a result, they don’t practise what they preach.
And to answer the second question, physical activity is an issue that applies toall areas of society. As a result, you can only achieve these changes if all parties involved have a stake in them. What’s required are clear-cut role models and top sport is the very place they shouldn‘t be drawn from. I also believe that in order to develop a joint strategy, working groups are required that go above and beyond the limits posed by government ministries. Taxes should be deployed to fund the programmes and not health insurance companies’ revenue. Finally, I believe that a major campaign, comparable with AIDS campaigns, is imperative. This is the way to create a new communications strategy.
Do you think that taking a quantum leap or small steps make more sense as regards generating changes in attitude? What role could furnishings, organisation and buildings play in the process?
First of all, small steps and big leaps are not a contradiction in terms. They can both be juxtaposed. Numerous small steps have already been taken. What‘s currently missing is the link in between. An overall strategy and a concept need to be put in place. Workplaces, homes and lifestyles play a key role as backdrops. One thing I have learnt is that in order to encourage people to engage in and with physical activity you have to approach them in their current environment.
And finally, what are you working on at the moment? What are your goals? As a researcher, over the last few years I’ve been looking at minimal levels of activity. In other words, how little activity is needed to cover the basic requirement for physical activity?
I hopefully know all there is to know now about managing training. Researching minimal levels of activity is now my goal. In other words it’s a question of telling people at some point to what extent, and perhaps even at what time of day, they should engage in physical activity. Personally that won’t be very much, but for the majority of people quite a lot. I hope that when I retire I’ll know the answer to this question.