BIG stands for Movement as Investment for Health (Bewegung als Investition in Gesundheit), in other words, improving health outcomes by investing in preventative physical activity interventions.  The pertinence of this approach in modern public health is shown by the increase in scientific evidence proving the benefits of physical activity – or movement – in recent years.  A few examples of the mounting scientific evidence include the prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension and obesity; the diminishment of disorders such as back pain; improvement of physical and mental well-being; and increased self-confidence and social support.

There are, however, social disparities in accessing the benefits of physical activity: individuals with higher socio-economic status in society have better health outcomes and are also more physically active than those with more restricted access to education, lower income, and more challenging life conditions.  The German health report, for instance, shows that only 30% of people in the upper classes were classified as being physically inactive.  Among respondents in the lower classes, however, the percentage of physical inactivity was virtually doubled, with a startling rate of 65% for women (30 to 60 years of age) in the lower class category. The health benefits of movement are thus linked to socio-economic status and gender.

Given these facts, the goal of the BIG project is to create more opportunities for women in difficult life situations to partake in physical activities, and to benefit from the positive effects of movement.  Existing studies show that this goal is rather difficult to achieve, for only a handful of physical activity interventions with socially disadvantaged groups have reached sustainable improved health outcomes thus far.  The practical challenge of the BIG project is the following: to reach out to those with the greatest need for physical activity, but who have the least opportunity to access it and the health benefits associated with it.  The scientific challenges of BIG are twofold: to develop and implement, in the first place, innovative interventions for the realization of sustainable promotion of movement for women in difficult life situations, and to develop adequate instruments for the evaluation of the health outcomes of these interventions.

In order to surmount these practical and scientific challenges, the BIG project has developed several approaches, which is elaborated below in the seven focal points of health promotion.