A mere three out of every ten adult Brazilians exercise or play sports on a regular basis. Men also exercise more than women, and people with higher income have more access to sports.
The figures can be found in the 2017 National Human Development Report – Movement is Life: Physical Activities and Sports for Everyone (in a literal English translation), the first survey of its kind conducted by the United Nation Program for Development (UNPD).
The document reports that 37.9% of the Brazilians interviewed in 2015 said they play sports. The rate was higher among men (42.7%) than women (33.4%). The data also indicate that being a young, white, upper-class, educated man with no disabilities means considerably more physical exercise in one's everyday life.
On the other hand, women from lower social and economic levels and less schooling, as well as elders, black, and disabled people make up the majority of those who do not exercise.
Also, people with a per capita household income of up to five minimum wages or more exercise up to 71% more than the average among adults. Those with no schooling whatsoever exercise up to 54% less than the average among adults.
The report makes recommendations directed at the government in such fields as health care, education, sports, and human development.
Change in focus
“The data considered confirm the understanding that physical exercise and sports are not limited to an individual decision, but is also a product of how society builds collective life. This means that recommending individuals to do more exercise without creating real opportunities for people to become engaged with the practices, or without facing social constraints limiting involvement, will hardly change this landscape,” the report reads.
To boost sports-related rates in the country, UPND suggests that the government, the private sector and society adopt public policies and create initiatives in line with the importance of such activities.
“Policies aimed at the promotion of physical activities and sports must not limit their focus to individual responsibility and change in behavior. A number of deep-rooted conditions make an impact on people's habits. Thus, policies should redress inequalities as well as seek real solutions, with an emphasis on participation and social control,” the text reads.
UNPD reports “highly concentrated private investment,” especially from families. According to the report, families invested $16 billions in sports in 2013. In the same year, clubs invested $1.2 billion and companies $722 thousand. As for public funding, the amount totaled $185 million from the federal government, $744 thousand from state secretariats, and $436 thousand from municipalities.
“The lack of state involvement in the promotion of sports force those interested to resort to the market and pay to gain access to these activities,” the study concludes.
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira