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EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity

Last update: 25 March 2024
On this page
  1. National strategy(ies)
  2. Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people
  3. Physical education in schools
  4. Collaboration and partnerships

National strategy(ies)

The Danish Sports Policy Aims (2016) and the Political Agreement on Sports (2014)



Political Agreement on Sports (2014)

In 2014, the Danish parliament launched the Political Agreement on Sports (‘Den politiske stemmeaftale om idræt’).  


The agreement establishes the policy in different areas of Danish sports policy, for instance, elite sports, anti-doping, sports in schools, etc. 


However, all groups in society must be given the opportunity to participate in sports and/or exercise. The policy plan thus addresses the importance of a special effort in relation to children, adolescents and adults who are not already a part of organised sport, as well as disabled or vulnerable groups who may otherwise experience difficulty when it comes to being included in traditional association settings.


With regard to young people, the most important part of the agreement is the part on sports in public primary and lower secondary schools (folkeskole). As an integral part of the school reform of 2013, it is a requirement that pupils in public schools have 45 minutes of sport/exercise each day. The agreement requests main sports organisations such as the Sports Confederation of Denmark, DGI and Danish School Sports (Dansk Skoleidræt) to help with the implementation of the reform.


The parties behind the agreement support the Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF) and the grassroots organisation DGI’s goal of 75% of Danes taking part in sports and 50% doing sport in a sports club/organisation by 2025 (Move for Life/Bevæg dig for Livet).


The Danish Sports Policy Aims (2016)

In 2016, a follow-up political agreement was established between the parties behind the 2014 agreement. The agreement, The Danish Sports Policy Aims  (Idrætspolitiske sigtelinjer) (2016)', established six focus areas in the field of sports. The six focus areas clarify the political priorities concerning sports and physical activity in Denmark. The focus areas are spread across several political fields of responsibility.

The focus areas are: 

  1. Sport for all. All groups in society must be given the opportunity to participate in sports and/or exercise. This focus area includes marginalised and vulnerable groups.
  2.  Sport as a resource for other welfare efforts. It is well known that physical activity can contribute to improved health by preventing both mental and physical disorders, supporting motor development, and supporting treatment and rehabilitation efforts. 
  3. The integrity of sport. Denmark has a strong focus on integrity in sports – good governance, anti-doping, and combatting match-fixing. Denmark will therefore continue to highlight the importance of international cooperation to limit the threat to clean sports in all relevant international contexts.
  4. Sport in relation to learning, well-being, and education in and outside school. The Danish educational system is an area where Danish pupils are introduced to sports, exercise, and physical education. Hereby, pupils are given the opportunity to engage in sports and physical activity during the school day as well as in their spare time.
  5. Nature and urban spaces as an arena for exercise and sports. Sports facilities, urban spaces, and Denmark’s nature form the settings for exercise and sports in organised, self-organised, and commercial sports. Furthermore, the different settings influence Danish citizens’ everyday motivation for being active.
  6. Branding, marketing, and international inspiration. In Denmark, recreational sports and elite sports go hand in hand when attracting major sporting events to Denmark with mass-participation activities alongside elite events. 

There is no monitoring, evaluation, or major revisions of the strategies.

Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people

The main funding of local sports associations is conferred in the Act on Non-Formal General Education (Folkeoplysningsloven, LBK nr 1115 af 31/08/2018), which ensures municipal support to voluntary activities in democratic associations in the form of the allocation of a grant for active members under the age of 25 and providing available local authority halls and facilities, which includes NGOs within sport and leisure activities. The act supports activities for people of all ages, but it has a special focus on people under 25 years of age.


Move for Life (Bevæg dig for livet)

The two largest sports organisations in Denmark, the Sports Confederation of Denmark and DGI, have launched a vision to make Denmark the world’s most active sports nation, with 75% of Danes taking part in sports and 50% doing sport in a sports club by 2025. An active life with movement and involvement in the local community will contribute to Danes’ well-being and health.


The Move for Life strategy will be evaluated continuously by the two organisations over a ten-year period (2015–2025). The strategy does not focus solely on the youth population but rather on the Danish population as a whole.



Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people in Denmark

According to the Act on Health (Sundhedsloven, LBK nr 210 af 27/01/2022), the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) is responsible for conveying information to the public and the health status of the Danish population, health-related risk factors, and the prevention of unhealthy lifestyles to the authorities. To this end, the Danish Health Authority has developed detailed teaching materials, launched information campaigns, and provided technical guidance regarding a number of risk factors. Eleven so-called ‘health promotion packages’ were published in 2012 and 2013, and in a second edition in 2018, to assist decision-makers and healthcare professionals in setting priorities when planning and organising health-promotion efforts at the local level. The packages all contain recommendations based on scientific knowledge to support the preventive work of the municipalities. The implementation of the packages is supported by the Centre for Practical Prevention established by Local Government Denmark, the national association of municipalities.


Each health promotion package includes basic recommendations and performance indicators for four action areas:


  • Framework (plans and policies at the municipal level)
  • Initiatives (counselling, training, treatment)
  • Information and education (information, marketing of local preventive services, support of national/central initiatives)
  • Early detection (screening and early detection of risk factors)

The health promotion packages cover 11 focus areas: alcohol, tobacco, physical activity, mental health, sexual health, sun protection, indoor climate in schools, hygiene, healthy food and meals, obesity, and drug abuse. 

The health promotion package regarding physical activity provides recommendations on the municipalities’ health promotion solutions and the infrastructure of these as well as recommendations about information, education and early tracing. In addition, the health promotion package guides the municipalities on how to monitor and evaluate physical activity among its citizens and how to engage in external partnerships regarding the promotion of physical activity.

The Danish Health Authority administers a pool for health promotion and sickness prevention

Private organisations can apply for funding of projects within the area of physical activities. The target groups can be children and young people, families with children, and children and adults with overweight. The pool of funding for projects within the area of physical activities in 2022-2023 is DKK 0.4 million for new projects. Some organisations have received conditional approval of support for DKK 3 million in 2022.

 Monitoring and evaluation of sports activities in Denmark

The Danish Institute for Sports Studies (IDAN) establishes a general overview of and insight into the field of sports. Among other things, IDAN prepares a survey every fourth year concerning the Danish population’s physical activities which also includes children and young people (danskernes motions-og-sportsvaner 2020).

Physical education in schools

Dansk Skoleidræt (Danish School Sports) aims to improve public health by means of multiple nationwide school activities such as Skolernes Motionsdag (Official Exercise Day for Schools), Sæt Skolen i bevægelse (Put the School into Movement), Legepatruljen (Play Patrol), Gameboosters, Skolesport (School Sport), Styr på Sundheden (Health under Control), Gåbus (Walking bus), etc. Dansk Skoleidræt is rooted in both sports and school systems, and their vision is to excite and anchor the foundation to lifelong activity through sports, play and daily movement in children and young adults. Dansk Skoleidræt is financed by two Danish ministries, namely the Ministry of Children and Education and the Ministry of Culture. Dansk Skoleidræt is a member of the International School Sport Federation (ISF).

In general, upper secondary education programmes, the subject Physical Education and Sport is either mandatory or optional depending on the specific education programme.

The objective of the subject is that the student gains insight into physical activity’s influence on health and into the cultural values of sport. The teaching consists of physical activities and theory.

In the three-year STX programme, Physical Education and Sport is mandatory at C level and optional at B level. As a pilot project, the subject is optional at A level in certain education institutions.

In the two-year HF programme, students must choose between Physical Education and Sport at C level or an artistic subject.

In the three-year HTX programme, Physical Education and Sport is an optional subject at B level.

In the three-year HHX programme, Physical Education and Sport is an optional subject at C level.

Team Denmark - elite sport in general upper secondary education programmes 

Team Denmark is a national organisation with the objective of developing Danish elite sport in an international context.

Team Denmark can approve young athletes, which means that the students have a more flexible upper secondary education programme during the weekdays and during exams. Furthermore, students can prolong their upper secondary education programme.

Physical education in vocational upper secondary programmes in Denmark

Students in vocational upper secondary (VET) programmes can choose Physical Education and Sport as an optional subject. The objective of the subject is to provide students with a positive experience of the connection between physical activity and well-being. Furthermore, the teaching contributes to the development of the students’ personal identity, social and communicative competences, as well as motivates the student to lifelong physical activity and personal health.

According to the ministerial order on VET education programmes, the teaching must be planned in a way that includes physical exercise and activity in order to promote health at young people and support motivation and learning. The students should be physically active for an average of at least 45 minutes during a school day.

Physical exercise and activity can be in the form of dedicated lessons or as a break from the ordinary teaching through the use of active break times. Furthermore, physical exercise and activity may be an integral part of other subjects.

It is possible for students engaged in sport at an elite level in Team Denmark to plan parts of their VET education programme with regard to their engagement in Team Denmark.

Physical education in preparatory basic education and training in Denmark

In preparatory basic education and training (FGU), the lessons are organised so that health, nutrition, and exercise are integral parts of all aspects of the student’s education.


Collaboration and partnerships

The Danish state’s practical influence on and promotion of sports and physical activities aimed at the youth population is highly decentralised. The framework policies are decided by the Danish government and the Ministry of Culture, but a majority of the actual strategies are promoted and initiated by sports organisations and sports federations in civil society.

The Danish area of sports is characterised by a significant degree of autonomy. The principle of ‘arm’s length’ is often used to describe the Danish model for financing and regulating sports. The principle implies that the sports organisations receive an annual amount of public funding that is left to each individual association to distribute in the organisation in accordance with the associations’ internal democratic structures and control – this is done at both the national and local levels.

In Denmark, voluntary sports – or grassroots sports – are organised by two major umbrella organisations: DGI and the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF). Half of all local sports clubs/associations in Denmark are members of both organisations. Besides these two umbrella organisations, the Danish Federation of Company Sports (DFIF) organises sports in local clubs/associations connected to companies and workplaces in Denmark.

Regarding financial support, the profits from the national lottery and football pools (Danske Spil) are distributed to a number of non-profit causes, including sports and culture. The Act on Division of Revenues from the National Lotteries (Udlodningsloven) sets a fixed amount that is regulated with the price index, which ensures the financing of umbrella organisations for grassroots sports in Denmark.

In 2023, the subsidy to organised grassroots sports in Denmark is estimated as follows: DIF - DKK 337.3 million, DGI - DKK 313.2 million, DFIF - DKK 46.5 million, Parasport Denmark - DKK 11.5 million, Dansk Skoleidræt (Danish School Sports) - DKK 4.2 million, Lokale og Anlægsfonden (The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities) - DKK 94.8 million.

Team Denmark - DKK 112.5 million, Anti-Doping Denmark - DKK 27.9 million, Sport Event Denmark - DKK 27.4 million and The Danish Institute for Sports Studies (IDAN) - DKK 11.4 million.

The Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen) cooperates with a wide range of private organisations, for instance, in the following projects:

Healthy in Nature(in cooperation with the Outdoor Council)

The project includes measures aiming to promote outdoor activities in the municipal measures aimed at, among others, children with special needs. The Danish Health Authority is part of the advisory group and contributes with counselling and knowledge on public health and physical activity.

Healthy Kids Move the School (in cooperation with Danish School Sports)

The project aims to help public primary and lower secondary schools implement the requirement of 45 minutes of physical activity each day. The Danish Health Authority participates in the project as part of the stakeholder panel. The purpose of the panel is to contribute professional knowledge and expertise in relation to the content and target group of the different measures in the project.

Thematic group: Physical Activity (within the framework of the Healthy City Network)

The Healthy City Network supports public health in the municipalities by creating synergy and networking opportunities between municipalities, regions, national actors, and the WHO. In the thematic group Physical Activity, the network focuses on how to establish and develop measures in relation to physical activity and optimal cooperation between municipalities. The Danish Health Authority participates in meetings with the group in order to have a dialogue with the municipalities.

Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance (AHK, in cooperation with the University of Southern Denmark) is an international network that assesses the status of the task of getting more kids and young people to be active in their everyday lives. The University of Southern Denmark is in charge of the project in Denmark. The Danish Health Authority participates in the working group as an observer.