The BIG approach

Physical activity has many positive effects on health: prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, prevention of high blood pressure and obesity, alleviation of symptoms (e.g. back pain), improvement of physical and mental well-being, development of self-confidence and social support – to name just a few of the numerous health-promoting effects of exercise

However, the chances of being able to profit from this positive effect are unequally distributed. Access to exercise is often difficult, especially for women in difficult life situations. Women in difficult life situations are e.g. single parents or unemployed, have a low household income or suffer difficulties due to their migration background. Various barriers, such as lack of childcare opportunities, lack of financial resources, language difficulties or cultural characteristics prevent women from participating in existing exercise offers.

Through BIG (”Physical activity as an Investment in Health”), these women are enabled to plan and implement low-threshold physical activity programmes. They are supported by a BIG network consisting of local actors such as municipal decision-makers, practice partners and multipliers. The aim of BIG is to facilitate access to exercise for women in difficult life situations, to strengthen women’s control over their own health and to expand local health promotion structures for the target group.

The approach was developed in 2005 at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and transferred and tested in practice within the framework of model projects.