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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

National strategy(ies)

The national strategy for the promotion of sports and physical activity is defined in a strategic document and also in a number of national plans and programmes in different areas and promoted by a differentiated group of actors. 

Although there is no plan or programme directly targeted at young people, they all include objectives and goals aimed at young people.

National Strategy for the Promotion of Physical Activity, Health and Well-being (ENPAF)

ENPAF arose within the context of the Consensus Meeting about Guidelines for the Recommendation for Physical Activity which was sponsored by the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe, through the Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Programme. Its production was coordinated by the Ministry of Health through the Directorate-General of Health and featured contributions from a wide range of partners, including the Ministry of Education and the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth.

Implemented in a intersectoral logic, ENPAF's duration period ranges from 2016-2025, in strict collaboration with the strategic goals of WHO-European Region Physical Activity Strategy 2016-2025 and the WHO Global Action Plan for Physical Activity Promotion (2018-2030).

ENPAF's main purpose is "raising the population's awareness to the importance of physical activity for their health and the implementation of intersectoral and multidisciplinary policies that aim to reduce sedentarism and increase the level of physical activity" and, consequently, the promotion of a healthy lifestyle as a way to prevent noncommunicable chronic diseases.  ENPAF is structured in 3 theme axis: 1) Physical Activity Promotion; 2) Health Professionals; and 3) Intersectoral work. Despite being complementary, Research and Monitoring are also fundamental for these 3 axes.

In the context of intersectoral work, the intention is to promote physical activity through partnerships with several institutions and entities, in order to develop projects that are a by-product of joint synergies and, therefore, enhancing available resources. 

In this sense, the importance of the PNPAF's role in the strategic planning of ENPAF must be highlighted, which will consist in setting up partnerships with the Ministry of Education for the development of programmes with the goal of increasing the number of students that, in the various levels of education, regularly practice physical activity/sport.

This stems from the physical activity promotion through mainstream education, particularly in secondary education and the activities developed within the scope of School Sport.


National Programme for the Physical Activity Promotion (PNPAF)

The National Programme for the Physical Activity Promotion (PNPAF) was developed in 2016 following the National Strategy for the Promotion of Physical Activity, Health and Well-being (ENPAF). It is one of the twelve priority Health Programmes of the Directorate-General of Health (DGS), and integrates the international guidelines of the World Health Organization in this regard.

The PNPAF aims to promote population physical activity practice, across its many different forms and contexts of practice.  As physical activity plays not only a preventive role, but also a therapeutic one, addressing both healthy and unhealthy segments of the population is crucial to potentiate health and quality of life.

The PNPAF has four Operational Goals, planned according to DGS strategic goals and initiatives:

  • To promote communication/literacy and increase citizens’ readiness for regular physical activity practice and reduction of sedentary time;
  • To foster and improve the quality of physical activity promotion (i.e assessment and counselling) at the health care system,  and the training of health professionals in this regard;
  • To encourage physical activity promoting environments in different contexts and throughout the life course, valuing and disseminating good practices;
  • To promote monitoring, surveillance and research in physical activity and its determinants and promotion strategies.


The PNPAF is responsible for the (co)coordination of the implementation and evaluation of paramount national actions regarding physical activity promotion, namely:

  • The physical activity promotion model of the National Health Service (NHS) – Health Ministry Order No. 8932/2017, October 10th –, based in two main interventions – brief counselling for physical activity and a physical activity consultation, including referral to physical activity resources in the community;
  • The national mass media campaign “Follow the Whistle – Physical Activity Calls You”;
  • Training of NHS health professionals regarding patients’ physical activity brief counselling and promotion;
  • Several national surveys regarding physical activity and its promotion (National Physical Activity Barometer; Physical Activity and Eating Behaviours During Social Confinement due to COVID-19; etc.);
  • The physical activity community program “Diabetes em Movimento”;

These and other important actions are developed and implemented with several social and governmental stakeholders and partners, as well as other health entities, regional and local, ensuring good practices implementation, full operationalization and proximity to citizens.


Intersectoral Commission for Physical Activity Promotion (CIPAF)

In order to facilitate intersectoral work and leverage the work at different partners, the Health Ministry created the Intersectoral Commission for Physical Activity Promotion (Order No. 3632/2017, 28th April), responsible for the creation and monitoring of the National Action Plan for Physical Activity. This Commission highlights the national best practices regarding physical activity promotion, including national initiatives targeting children and youth. It comprises Government representatives from six different areas: Health; Sports and Youth; Education; Science, Technology and Higher Education; Employment; and Inclusion.


National Sports for All Programme

The National Sports for All Programme (PNDpT) is a programme of the Portuguese Government operationalised by the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth, I.P. (IPDJ, I.P.) which intends to implement and operate a set of international recommendations, including the guidelines of the European Union Council, United Nations, World Health Organisation and the International Olympic Committee.

The objectives and goals of this programme are based on 3 big pillars - sport development, health promotion and education and training for and through sport, according to the Health-Enhancing Physical Activity philosophy and with the EU Physical Activity Guidelines, Recommended Policy Actions in Support of Health-Enhancing Physical Activity approved by the EU Working Group "Sport & Health".

More specifically, the objectives identified are focused on improving the physical activity culture and increasing the participation in sports and physical activity while decreasing sedentary behaviours with impact on reducing non-communicable  diseases. At the same time, PNDpT focus on increasing public information about the benefits of sport and creating opportunities for equal access to sports.

Among its specific goals, aims to contribute to the integral education of children and young people and to create a more effective relationship between young people and the school.

The programme encompasses a broadening set of sectoral fields, in particular Sport and Youth, Education, Health and Tourism, Solidarity and Social Security, Environment and Transportation, having been designed in accordance with regulations and objectives of the various national programmes in execution and related to Sport, including, among others, the National Health Plan, which is under the responsability of the the Ministry of Health.

The PNDpT provides for a set of monitoring elements, and particularly, an evaluation model and device, methodologies and instruments defined according to the evaluation dimensions, criteria and indicators, and producing an annual activity report. 


   School Sport Programme for 2017-2021

School sports is offered as an extracurricular activity for all schools. It aims at promoting health and physical condition, the acquisition of healthy habits and the development of motor skills, while contributing to the understanding of sport as a cultural factor, stimulating feelings of solidarity, cooperation, autonomy and social inclusion.

School Sport is defined as the set of recreational and sporting practices and training with sporting object developed as a curricular complement and occupation of free-time, in a regime of freedom of participation and choice, integrated in the activity plan of the school and coordinated within the scope of the education system.

The School Sport Programme for 2017-2021, defines the guidelines for the realization of the Projects that will contribute to the improvement of the students' physical literacy, according to the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the Resolution of the Assembly of the Republic no. 94/2013 (on the promotion of school sports and sport by young people).

The School Sport Programme for the quadrennium of 2017-2021 has the following strategic vectors:

•    To qualify the school sport offer;

•    To encourage the demand for School Sport

•    To articulate sport activity with school organisation:

•    To consolidate the management of School Sport.

The Programme (as a privileged initiative to promote healthy habits) also wants to promote social skills and moral values, such as: responsibility; team spirit; discipline; tolerance; perseverance; humanism; truth; respect; solidarity; dedication.

The 2017-2021 programme has three levels of organisation:

1.    Complementary projects (Open and Specific)

2.    «Competition» projects (interscholastic competitions and international Participations)

3.    «Valorisation» projects (DE+; Training and capacitation building; Pilot projects and Centres of Sport Training).

School Sport still offers training for education professionals in the field of sport, through the organisation of continuous training activities for teachers, in order to promote an increased quality of the teaching methods and the developed activities.


Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people


National Sports for All Programme

Under the National Sports for All Programme, some initiatives have been developed to promote the social inclusion of young people through sport, in order to allow disadvantaged young people to access sporting activities.


High Performance Sport Unit in School (UAARE)

UAARE aim an effective articulation between school groups, parents, sport federations and their agents and municipalities, along with other parties. Their goal is to successfully conciliate school activity with the practise of sport by secondary schools’ students/athletes framed in high performance regime, national teams or with high sport potential.

In the school year of 2019/2020 there were 19 UAARE schools that included around 600 students-athletes from 39 sport disciplines.

The average global academic UAARE performance in the school year of 2018/2019 is of 93%. In every school year results above the national average were achieved. Sports performance reflects itself in several world and European titles, with several students integrated in national teams being in some cases holders of records. The dropout rate was residual, 1.4 %, a pretty good result when in comparison with most international sport schools.


Ethics in sport

The National Plan for Ethics in Sport (PNED) is a government initiative promoted by the Office of the Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, which the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth, I.P. is responsible for its management and funding.

It encompasses a set of initiatives that aim to disseminate and promote the ethical values in sports, notably the truth, respect, responsibility, friendship and cooperation.

Despite being targeted at the entire population, it essentially develops activities aimed at children and young people, schools, universities, among others.

PNED operates on 5 Strategic Axis: Training/Education; Sports/Events; Publications/Research/ICT; Competitions and Campaigns.

In the context of its activities, the following, among others, stand out:

Proposal for ethics and values in the physical education curriculum (2016)

A proposal that offers a set of teaching strategies in order to help the operationalisation of the values in/of sports, according to the pedagogical guidelines defined in the physical education curriculum and in the physical-motor expression.

Internship Centre of Values in Sport

A mobile pedagogical resource (caravan) available to go to schools, clubs and sporting events, or others;

Comics "As Aventuras de Splitez"

5 comic book stories that approach the themes of bullying, discrimination, balancing the academic life with sports, individualism and doping in sports;

Red card to Bullying

A campaign that started in 2016 targeting the prevention of Bullying in Sports, with the collaboration of the Faculty of Human Kinetics- University of Lisbon (FMH-UL), in the form of an informational/educational/preventive brochure against Bullying, called "Cartão Vemelho ao Bullying (Red Card to Bullying)". It is promoted and funded by the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth.

Sport without Bullying

This is a research-action project that arises in 2017 following the Red Card to Bullying project, in a partnership between the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth (IPDJ) and the Faculty of Human Kinetics and a wide range of other entities and ambassadors.

The project aims to raise awareness of educational and sporting communities about bullying in sports training, and its intervention is structured in 3 strategies: creation of tools, training of trainers and specialized intervention in clubs.

It is aimed at:

  • Athletes and former high competition athletes;
  • Parents and families;
  • Trainers, managers and staff of sports clubs;
  • Researchers and scientists;
  • Teachers currently working or in training (especially physical education teachers);
  • Students (all levells of education);
  • Health professionals that work with children and young people;
  • Populations at greater risk of social exclusion;
  • Politicians and decision-makers.

This project has a website with information about bullying in sports according to the person that it is addressing - "Who are you in this game?" - Family, Trainers, Aggressor, Victim or Observer.


Sessions of Awareness-Raising "Ethics in Sports"

Intervention in educational establishments, from primary education to secondary education, with the goal of stressing the promotion of rights and responsibilities through the importance of values, like, for instance, respect and tolerance, in sports and in life. Presentation of testimoniels by regarded persons of recognised standing related to sports, illustrative of inspiring careers.


Literary Competition "Ethics in Life and Sports"

Activity in the range of education for citizenship that intends to encourage the production of written assignments, by secondary education students (special attention given to students from educational centres and detention facilities), related to Ethics in Life and Sports, giving emphasis to the importance of assimilation and dissemination of values. Promoted by the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth, in partnership with the Directorate-General for Education/School Sport, Directorate-General for Reinsertion and Prison Service, Sport Foundation, Sports Newspaper A Bola, Regional Directorate for Sport of the Government of Azores, Regional Secretariat for Education of the Regional Government of Madeira.


 Pedagogical Resources

Also, a set of pedagogical resources is available in the website of PNED targeted at the community in general (Educators/Teachers, Parents/Guardians, children and young people, different sports agents, among others).


National Sports Centre of Jamor (CDNJ)

The National Sports Centre of Jamor (CDNJ) is a multifunctional space for training and leisure that offers services to High Performance Athletes, National Teams, Federated Athletes and the general Population. It is managed by the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth.

The objective is to promote the development of sporting activities, and to promote inclusive sports.

The centre has the following services:

High Performance Centre of Jamor, which offers a range of services and valences of multidisciplinary support aimed at improving the performance of athletes, in particular, in the field of sports medicine, physical therapy, nutrition, evaluation and control of training, training at altitude, support for training focused on the bio-motor abilities. It also includes the Sports Medicine and Training Control Centre.

Sports Medicine and Training Control Unit

Accommodation Units - Car Residence and Internship Centre

The intention is to provide opportunities to athletes that live permanently in the High-Performance Centre of Jamor. Among the conditions for admission, there are criteria related to sports performance of the athletes and their school performance.   Despite being essentially intended for athletes, it also accepts school and university groups.


School Visits Jamor Project

The School Visits Jamor Programme intends to welcome and accommodate school groups that wish to visit the CDNJ as a sports centre which supports sports and high performance.


Federated Sports

The Federated Sports, managed and funded by the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth, I.P., promotes and supports technically, materially and financially the development of sports, as well as high performance sports and national teams.

It is responsible for granting scholarships to support athletes, as well as school, work, post-career support, among others, to high performance agents. This support is provided for in the legal framework of High Performance and national teams.

In articulation with other organic units of the IPDJ it still intends to comply with the grants from this Institute under the Prevention of Violence in Sports.


FITschool (FITescola) Project

The FIT school arises from a partnership between the Faculty of Human Kinetics - University of Lisbon (FMH-UL) and the Directorate-General of Education, and has as partners the Portuguese Olympic Committee, the National Council of Physical Education Teachers and Professionals and the Portuguese Society of Physical Education.

It is a free of charge online platform that aims to promote healthy lifestyles for children and teenagers, educating young people to be physically active. 

In the online platform it is possible to evaluate the physical fitness of children and teenagers through carrying out a set of exams: aerobic fitness, body composition and neuromuscular fitness.

The platform offers resources for 8 fields of information - Physical fitness, Physical activity, Sedentary Behaviour, Sport, Hydration, Pedagogic Materials, Nutrition, Health and Well-being.

It is intended for all students in basic and secondary education, as well as the entire school community - students, teachers, educational assistants and guardians, and it is used extensively by health technicians and local authorities.


Physical education in schools

Within the scope of the Portuguese Education System, The Ministry of Education has promoted sports in the several levels of education, on one hand, through the integration of sports in the school curriculum of the different education levels and, on the other hand, through the School Sports programme.


Integration in the Curriculum

Physical Education is a curriculum unit of mandatory attendance.

In the curriculum revision of the Secondary Education, the course load of Physical Education was increased to 150 minutes.  The schools, under the framework of their pedagogic autonomy, are free to organise the school time for the more convenient units, as long as the total course load of each class is respected, in accordance with the Matrix of scientific-humanistic Courses.

Since 2012 that Physical Education’s grades were not taken into account for the tabulation of secondary education’s average and access to higher education, but in the school year of 2018/2019 this grade is gradually accounted for again, from the 10th grade onwards. 


Essential Learning in the Curricular Area of Physical Education

In curricular autonomy and flexibility (PAFC) Essential Learning is used in classes of initial years of cycles and levels of education (gradually expanded to all school years) and also in the first year of training courses organised in training cycles. Essential Learning is a curricular base guidance document in planning, execution and assessment of teaching and learning. It leads to the development of the skills portrayed in the students’ Profile when leaving compulsory education.

The essential learning from the 2nd and 3rd Cycles constitutes the strategic bloc of Physical Education’s curricular proposal, in which an approach of the subjects is established in its own way and in all its extension. In these two cycles the essential of Physical Education’s learning is guaranteed, as an anticipation of the flexible model, of students’ or classes’ options, envisioned for secondary education.

In secondary education the curricular organisation presupposes the definition of two stages of development. The 10th grade has predominantly a nature of revision of contents developed during the 2nd and 3rd Cycles of Former Preparatory Education, allowing the students to move forward in certain subjects, to experiment alternative areas or yet to bring back knowledge which was harder for them to understand. This is the year in which occurs a learning period stabilisation that allows sustained choices in the years to come. On the 11th grade, much like the forthcoming 12th grade, the students’ option is allowed, in each class, regarding the subjects they wish to improve, being guaranteed the possibility of discovering other activities, without loss of the eclecticism inherent to this curricular proposal.


Secondary Education — Professional courses

The physical education class is compulsory, with a course load of 140 hours during the three years of the education and training cycle.  The schools, in the framework of their pedagogic autonomy, are free to organise the school time for the more convenient unit, as long as the total course load of each class is respected.

Education and Training Courses - Sociocultural component

They are comprised of two Physical Education sessions per week, with a duration of at least 45 minutes, and on non-consecutive days.


School Sport

School Sport is one of the fields of action of the Ministry of Education, which is integrated in the School Sports Division and Directorate-General of Education. School Sport aims to contribute to the integral training and personal development of each student, based on the article 79 of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic: "everyone has the right to physical culture and sport".

School Sport is comprised of an internal component, promotion and awareness-raising, and an external component, competition. 

Educational establishments can promote physical and sports activities, with a formal or informal nature, developing sporting activities as a complement of the curriculum, intra and interschools, targeted at school groups or single schools of the public, private education, and to cooperative and professional educational establishments, whether they are dependent, or not, on the Ministry of Education.


Higher education

University Sports

The practice of a physical activity is not mandatory in higher education. However, Higher Education Institutions (IES), with the goal of managing the students' free time, created a group of initiatives and sports activities in the context of the entitled University Sports. 

The organisation of university sports differs depending on the activity and the university in which it is placed.

In Portugal, university sports are dependent on the Academic Federation of University Sport (FADU).

FADU is a multi-sports federation whose mission is to organise the practice of sports in universities and promote competition, socializing and exchange of students from various higher education institutions within and outside of Portugal.

In higher education, most institutions have a service or department for sports, according to the organisation models of sport in each institution.


Access to higher education

The access regime to higher education provides a special access regime for students that cumulatively are:

  • high performance athletes, that are registered in the list organised by the Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth (IPDJ);
  • athletes in the abovementioned conditions, but that have ended their career and did not use this special regime in that period may benefit from it within three years after the end of their career;
  • and are qualified with a course of the Portuguese secondary education or have a legally equivalent qualification. 


High performance athletes are those who obtain sports classifications and rankings of high merit, measured in accordance with the international sports standards.

Statute for student-athletes at higher education institutions

The statute for student-athletes at higher education institutions, approved on January 24, 2019, aims to support the development of dual careers in higher education institutions and within the academic community, promoting the sports representation of institutions and providing an incentive for the continuity of sports practice after mandatory education (Decree-Law No. 55/2019, of 24 April).

Support is provided for students who develop their sports practice in the federated system and for those who wish to continue their practice in school sports.

Accordingly, in a framework of autonomy in which higher education institutions and student associations define the terms of the organization and development of sport practice, the set of minimum rights of access to sport for all higher education students is standardized, such as reporting absences, changing assessment dates, priority in the choice of schedules and the possibility of requiring exams different periods than those established by the institution.

This statute provides a legal and regulatory framework establishing mechanisms that improve the conditions for participation in competitions that are integrated into the sporting context of higher education, contributing to the increased relevance of these competitions.


Collaboration and partnerships


National Strategy for the Promotion of Physical Activity, Health and Well-being | 2016-2025

The National Strategy for the Promotion of Physical Activity, Health and Well-being | 2016-2025 recommends the development of intersectoral work through partnerships with several institutions and entities, carried out by PNPAF, specifically:

The Ministry of Education, in the field of education with the promotion of physical activity in schools and in articulation with the School Sports Programme;

The Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, in particular through the development of actions to promote access to physical activity and sport for the whole population, including vulnerable groups such as low-income families, the unemployed, single parents, immigrants, disadvantaged children, disabled and elderly people;

The Portuguese Institute of Sport and Youth (IPDJ), with the promotion of partnerships that promote synergies in the field of sport and health and articulation with the Sports for All Programme;

Municipalities, through partnerships with the National Association of Municipalities, Intermunicipal Communities and Local Authorities, in order to promote the physical activity and use and monetization of sports spaces at the local level;

Partnership with Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations, Companies and their Associations and with Entities, Clubs in the area of ​​Physical Activity and Sports Associations, through the involvement of companies and civil society organisations, and promotion of the relationship of proximity with the populations.

Within this  context, the Intersectoral Commission for Physical Activity Promotion was created in 2017, reflecting an intersectoral work through partnerships with several institutions and entities, the Intersectoral Commission for Physical Activity Promotion is constituted by four Ministries (six Secretaries of State):

-    Ministry of Health

-    Ministry of Education

-    Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security

-    Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education