“Sedentarism is a health time bomb.” In their July 2021 report on the evaluation of public health prevention policies, the deputies Marie Tamarelle-Verhaeghe (LREM) and Régis Juanico (Génération.s) make an alarming observation: the French are not moving enough. According to this report, 54% of men and 44% of women are aged 18 to 74 “overweight or obese”† More generally, up to 5 million deaths per year could be avoided if the world’s population were more active, reports the World Health Organization (WHO).
These bad indicators make “gives me chills”notes Tony Estanguet with franceinfo, the chairman of the organizing committee of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. To encourage the French to put on their sports shoes, doctors or elected officials rely on sports health, the practice of physical activities that contribute to being and health, physical, psychological and social, as determined by the department. They would have liked to see the topic at the heart of the campaign presidential. But two months before the election, there is almost no trace of this concept in the programs, speeches or TV debates.
Not a word in Eric Zemmour’s (Reconquest!) roadmap† No sense from Marine Le Pen (RN), even though she mentions health in her 22 measures for 2022. Also nothing in the program of Vélérie Pécesse (LR).† In the course of her 70 proposals, Anne Hidalgo (PS) promotes in one sentence: “sports practice” for its chronic disease prevention plan. Fabien Roussel (PCF) wants to increase the number of hours of sports activities “in the content of the training, from kindergarten to secondary school”, but without mentioning the subject. In his online program, Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI) wants to set up the compensation of sports health “through social security† Yannick Jadot (EELV) makes it a priority. So why such discretion?
Sport is good for health. So far nothing new. “What is innovative, is that science has proven that physical activity is a validated therapy in the treatment of chronic diseases, explains to franceinfo Roland Krzentowski, doctor, founder of My stadium, sports health home, in Paris (owned by the MGEN mutuality). A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of cancer, diabetes or cardiovascular disease. As proof, a 2017 study from the National Cancer Institute (INCa) showed the beneficial effects of physical activity in cancer patients.
Actions have been launched in recent years, notably through the establishment of sports and health centres, patients to practice sports under supervision. come from hospitals, “sick people, sedentary people, learn an activity [physique]†declared to franceinfo in October the minister deputy for sports, Roxana Maracineanu. “In these places, where there are sports teachers and health professionals, it is possible to get people to regular physical activity, to perpetuate this habit.”
Candidate Emmanuel Macron promised 500 such structures five years ago. in the end, 436 are labeled, franceinfo assures the LREM delegate of Dear François Cormier-Bouligeon, president of the sports group at the National Assembly. In total, 3.4 million euros in 2021 and 4.3 million euros this year have been invested in these sports health houses, they are included in the law on the democratization of sport and “At least 360,000 people have already been accompanied there”, assesses the Ministry of Sport at franceinfo. Roxana Maracineanu was also the first to sign a joint agreement with the Order of Physicians to promote physical and sports activities.
When the right denounces a marketing stunt involving sports and health houses, the case defenders make sure the signal is the right one. “Nothing should be thrown away considering where we come from. Sports and health centers are good, but it’s not moving fast enough”, regrets the ex-athlete Stéphane Diagana, entrepreneur on a sports health campus in Mougins (Alpes-Maritimes). According to a study by the AP-HP, “in France 20 million people suffer from chronic diseases”continues Martine Duclos, director of the sports medicine department of the University Hospital Clermont-Ferrand (Puy-de-Dôme).
“It’s not 500 sports health houses that will solve all the problems.”Martine Duclos, Director of the Sports Medicine Department of the University Hospital of Clermont-Ferrand
Because the stakes seem high. During the primaries of Les Républicains, Michel Barnier, then candidate, had mentioned it on BFMTV: “A sports country is a country that has morals, that spends less on its health and knows how to contain that.” Since then, the former European Commissioner has bowed to Valérie Pécresse and sports health has disappeared from the radar. “I mainly see ego wars more than programs, I haven’t seen much happen”deplores franceinfo Michel Cymes, the doctor of the PAF, present at France Télévisions, and signatory of a forum “For a France in shape”.
“Sadly, sport is a theme that is rarely addressed in presidential campaigns. We talk about current issues, which are divisive and sell more to the media. The place of sport in the campaign depends on the budget of Status in this area: very poor”, regrets Michel Savin, senator of Isère and chairman of the group Sports practices and major sports events in the Senate. The same resentment with Stéphane Diagana † “It’s disturbing! The subject may not be buzzing, but it would bring solutions and well-being. There is a disregard for what goes on below the shoulders.”
For two years now, the health crisis has been linked to: Covid-19 could have changed the game. Especially since some doctors had lamented the closure of gyms during childbirth. “The pandemic could have been a springboard. We are looking for vaccines, drugs, but physical activity is one,” notes Roland Krzentowski. †With a healthier population, we would have weathered the pandemic in a less painful way, both on an individual and collective level.” Judge Stephane Diagana.
Could this lack of interest hide a disdain for physical activity in France? This is regretted by François Carré, cardiologist at the University Hospital of Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), who is disturbed by certain speeches. “‘Do you want us to post things that will bear fruit in fifteen or twenty years’ time, when we’re gone?” an elected official told me one day. I thought politics meant putting myself in the service of others…”
It is true that the development of sports health requires long-term reflection. “You have to look up and measure the results in the field of health and economics in four or five years, admits Michel Savin. Reflection should not be limited to a budget year. But for the supporters, the benefits are undeniable: reduction of expenditure on chronic disease management, the creation of jobs that cannot be relocated to monitor physical activity practices, urban space development, etc. .
“In 2018, an experiment called ‘As of the heart’ showed that we can save 30% of the care for patients with cardiovascular disease by prescribing appropriate exercise”illustrates Régis Juanico, deputy for sports in Yannick Jadot’s campaign.
In order to introduce health sports sustainably, some obstacles must also be overcome. Roland Krzentowski and Régis Juanico point in particular to the lack of training in the university curricula of doctors “on the benefits of physical activity, which are not being studied enough, in prevention”. Another brake, the reimbursement of this care. For which activities? How often ? Which way? “We need at least partial coverage of Social Security prescribing modified physical activity”encourages Michel Savin.
“If elected, Yannick Jadot’s first measure will be the reimbursement of the first consultation for a physical activity adapted to chronic diseases.”Régis Juanico, Member of Parliament of the Loire generation
Prescription sports, in a way. There are already some local initiatives on this. Already in 2012, the city of Strasbourg experimented with †promoting the practice of regular, moderate and appropriate activity for patients suffering from stabilized chronic diseases”reports France 3 Grand Est. In a year, †nearly 800 prescriptions had been issued by more than 150 GPs”estimated in 2014 at 20 minutes Alexandre Feltz, current health assistant to the mayor of Strasbourg.
In addition, specialists insist on the need to review prevention messages. “A third of adults respect the National Health Nutrition Program”who recommends to consume “at least five fruits and vegetables a day”progressed in January 2021 Laurent Grandin, President of the French Interprofession of Fruit and Vegetables. “Food and five fruits and vegetables a day, it doesn’t work, the French don’t do itpaste Martine Duclos. Promoting physical activity can work, but you have to give yourself the resources.” Financial or human, while according to the doctor our health system is showing its limits.
“Like with climate disasters, we know it’s going to happen to us. We know the system won’t be able to sustain it, but we’re not responding. There’s blindness.”Martine Duclos, Director of the Sports Medicine Department of the University Hospital of Clermont-Ferrand
For sports health promoters, there may be hope in the near future. The 2024 Summer Olympics will be held in Paris. A horizon that should make it possible to bring more physical activity back into the daily life of the French. One of the axes of the famous “heritage” praised by the organizers. “If we have a less healthy population, we will have fewer champions, concludes Stéphane Diagana. It’s not about the medals, it’s about health, because we can’t miss these anymore.” Here’s a new motto: the most important thing is to anticipate.