Adapted physical activity in the municipalities of Finland in 2019
The resourcing level and number of adapted physical activity (APA) groups remained broadly unchanged in 2019 compared to the previous review years, with a greater propensity to rise than decrease. Municipalities were predominantly neutral or cautiously optimistic about the state and future of APA. Municipalities had to adjust to the constraints caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, which partly meant temporarily shutting down or restricting operations, and partly meant developing new activities. The pandemic forced municipalities to develop remote services. They also increased outdoor physical exercise services.
Municipalities draw differing boundaries between APA and health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA), with municipalities arranging groups that were open to participants choosing to self-identify in either client group. The number of APA instructors would appear to be falling by title, with a significant proportion of other physical exercise instructors responsible for instruction in both HEPA and APA. The boundary between APA and HEPA is therefore highly unclear.
Only less than half of municipalities had plans governing APA, and even fewer reported effective monitoring systems. While this is consistent with the findings of previous evaluations, it differs from the position stated in the TEAviisari benchmarking tool. Questions concerning accessibility work and co-operation highlighted shortcomings in the flow of information between various sectors of government.
The principal partner in physical exercise activities is usually the municipal social and health care sector. The upcoming social and health care reform will reassign social and health care services from municipalities to new welfare areas. Municipalities and municipal sports activities are likely to reach a stage where co-operation with social and health care services will have to be reorganized, with a new partner.
The needs of people taking physical exercise vary greatly according to living conditions and the limitations caused by injuries and illnesses. Many individuals in the target group have multiple limitations, and it would seem to be more challenging for them to use physical exercise services. The survey also revealed that previous evaluations have evidently underestimated the role of the private sector in adapted physical activity for the disabled and the chronically ill people.
This report reviews the state of adapted physical activity (APA) in the municipalities of mainland Finland in 2019. The underlying data for the report were collected through a survey of municipalities, a survey of the clientèle of adapted physical activity services, and two interviews.
The report includes an overview of the practical arrangements for municipal adapted physical activity services: target group delimitation, staffing levels and duties, changes in APA expenditure, plans governing APA services, co-operation with other operators, and co-operation that transcends municipal boundaries. The report also examines the nature and number of services, APA groups, changes in the number of such groups, and other services. The report examines – as new themes or more broadly than before – work on accessibility, support for autonomous physical exercise including discount cards, and the state of APA from the perspective of users, and it briefly examines the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the provision of physical exercise services.
The report is only available in Finnish: Soveltavan liikunnan tilanne kunnissa 2019 (pdf)