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EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.3 Sport, youth fitness and physical activity

Last update: 28 November 2023
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 Sport Policy Aims (2016) and the Political Agreement on Sports (2014)

Political Agreement on Sports (2014)

The Danish Sport 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’). In May 2021, the finance committee in the Danish parliament agreed to renew and thus continue the agreement for 2021-2026.

The agreement was presented in 2014 and is still in effect.

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 four main sports organisations to help with the implementation of the reform. The organisation Danish School Sports (Dansk Skoleidræt) received special funding in 2015–2017 in order to help implement the reform.

The parties behind the agreement support the Sports Confederation of Denmark and the grassroots organisation DGI’s goal of 75% of Danes taking part in sport 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 sport. The six focus areas clarify the political priorities concerning sport and physical activity for 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 increased health by preventing both mental and physical disorders, supporting motor development, and supporting treatment and rehabilitation efforts. Therefore, sports can also be seen as a resource for other welfare efforts.
  3. The integrity of sport. Denmark has a strong focus on integrity in sport – good governance, anti-doping, and combatting match-fixing. Denmark will therefore continue to highlight the importance of an 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. In 2014, the reform of Danish primary schools ensured that physical activity received more attention in relation to the educational system.
  5. Nature and urban spaces as an arena for exercise and sports. Sports facilities, urban spaces, and the Danish nature form the settings for exercise and sports in the organised, self-organised, and commercial sports, and furthermore the different settings influence Danish citizens’ everyday motivation for being active. This initiative aims to secure and develop the settings for sports activities and exercise and to exploit the potentials of existing facilities, nature, and urban spaces.
  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. An example is the 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, which took place in Copenhagen. On the official route, 23,000 recreational runners followed the elite runners, creating a unique race with all levels of running represented.

Key objectives:

The aim is to make Denmark the most active nation in the world when it comes to engaging in physical activity. The agreement supports the target that 75% of the population participate in sports/exercise and that 50% are active in sports organisations in 2025.

A part of this objective is to expand sports/exercise to as many groups in society as possible. In goal number 1, the agreement specifically enhances the obligation of the large sports associations to include groups in society that might not participate in sport, for instance people with disabilities or socially marginalised people.

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 years 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.

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 sport 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 the 10-year period (2015–2025). The strategy does not focus solely on the youth population but rather the Danish population as a whole.

In 2017, the government decided to support the Move for Life strategy by establishing three working groups with representatives from ministries and various major stakeholders. The working groups have put forward four new sports initiatives with the aim of facilitating experiences and communities that can contribute to better health and employment. The four initiatives are as follows:

  • Inclusion in local communities through sports (pool)
  • Exercise and community on prescription (pool)
  • A national e-sport strategy
  • School network

The state has allocated DKK 35 million to the two pools in 2019-2022.


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 population and to the authorities on the health status of the Danish population, health-related risk factors, and the prevention of unhealthy lifestyles. To this end, the Danish Health Authority has developed detailed teaching material, 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 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, 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) has conducted an evaluation on sports measures aimed at marginalised groups in society. Among the projects evaluated is Broen Danmark (Bridge Denmark), mentioned above. The evaluation concludes that the measures strengthen social inclusion. The support from Bridge Denmark is key to marginalised children and young people’s physical activity in organised sports associations. The measures in Bridge Denmark create an optimal opportunity for a life independent of parents’ economic, employment, family, and ethnic situation.


Sports for marginalised citizens, like Bridge Denmark, can be funded by the reserve for measures within the social, health, and employment sector (SSA-reserven). The funding of specific projects is based on applications with project descriptions, objectives, and targets. Associations must report the status of the project, typically midterm and at the end of the project. If the association does not fulfil the objectives established in the application, the funding can be withdrawn. Furthermore, a financial statement documenting all expenses related to the projects must be provided at the end of a project. Occasionally, an evaluation is part of the project description.


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 teaching is 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 the 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 level.

In Denmark, voluntary sport – or grassroots sport – is organised in two major umbrella organisations: the Danish Gymnastics and Sports Association (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 sport 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 307million, DGI DKK 284.6 million, DFIF DKK 41.9 million, Parasport Denmark DKK 10.2 million, Dansk Skoleidræt (Danish School Sports) DKK 1.9 million, Lokale og Anlægsfonden (The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities) DKK 86.7 million.

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

Health in the 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 contribute 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 the 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 with 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 the meetings in 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.