Physical activity counselling is a form of health promotion that focuses on individuals. It is especially intended for people who do not get enough physical activity for their health and wellbeing. Physical activity counselling aims to motivate customers to exercise in their preferred ways, promoting their own health and wellbeing.

Why is physical activity counselling needed?

More than 70% of Finns take too little physical activity for their health, while an increasing number of people spend the bulk of their days sitting. Inadequate physical activity and prolonged sedentary periods increase health risks, which cause both harm to humans and costs measured in billions. Physical activity is a medicine that helps reduce these health risks considerably. Health-enhancing lifestyle choices, including adequate exercise, are an effective way to prevent disease.

Healthcare professionals play an important role in health promotion. Combined with other lifestyle counselling, physical activity counselling should be elevated to the same status as medication. Physical activity counselling is a means of having a positive influence on individuals’ health behaviour. It is advisable to market the physical activity counselling process to customers as a method that provides them with motivation and support for making a change and with energy for everyday life and work.

Launching physical activity service chains and physical activity counselling processes has created an efficient channel for cooperation between municipal sports services and healthcare and social services. The common goal of the partners is to promote healthy lifestyle choices among municipal residents by means of physical activity.

Physical activity service chains

‘Physical activity service chain’ refers to cross-sectoral cooperation between different parties operating within a single municipality. In order to guarantee continuity, cooperation is not only required within individual organisations, but also between different parties. From the customer perspective, this means consecutive services that form a seamless chain.

The common goal is to promote healthy lifestyle choices among municipal residents by means of physical activity. A physical activity service chain requires parties to: 1) network with each other; 2) transfer information between each other effectively; 3) create a comprehensive patient record system; 4) define shared objectives; 5) agree on practices and working methods together; and 6) secure sufficient human resources.

The physical activity service chain should form part of the municipal or regional ‘wellbeing story’.

Fit for Life program measures to promote physical activity counselling

The Fit for Life Program is cooperating with the UKK Institute to launch and develop physical activity counselling as part of the physical activity service chain, commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

The Fit for Life program is responsible for: determining the quality of physical activity counselling; providing financial support for counselling projects; coordinating training courses in physical activity service chains and physical activity counselling; promoting ways of bringing up the topic of physical activity; and collecting various models and disseminating these for use by different parties. The work is carried out in cooperation with a broad network of experts.

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