How to make physical activity a strategic part of all work in the city administration?

Residents’ physical activity is one of the City of Helsinki key targets. It is mostly not about sports but about making citizens’ daily lives active by increasing walking and cycling, and reducing sitting and sedentary time. Achieving this objective will require a more comprehensive understanding, promotion and coordination of physical activity than before. Physical activity is getting incorporated into the City of Helsinki’s basic operations, budget planning and divisional targets as part of the promotion of wellbeing and health.

The operational cultures in workplaces, schools, early childhood education and educational institutions are encouraged to promote routinely use of your own muscles in an easy and fun way. The urban environment, infrastructure and services will be developed for physical activity in a variety of ways. The City of Helsinki’s personnel will be trained and encouraged to be physically active.

The very nature of the Physical Activity Programme is very dispersed, as it attempts to affect hundreds of common activities of hundreds of thousands of people. Also the actions that the city can take are spread across the whole organisation, making the objective very hard to manage.


Analyze and focus on citizens' daily activities and how the city interacts with them. Build an action plan based on that.

Project manager Minna Paajanen realised already in the beginning that such a wide topic needs to be managed in an effectively coordinated way. The physical activity programme contained a lot of actions planned by various city services, but often the actions had been written in a sense of “developing, planning and increasing” without measurable goals. Lack of concrete targets makes it difficult to evaluate the actual results and effectiveness of the separate actions.


Paajanen decided to develop practical, measurable indicators for all actions and use Kausal Watch to manage and communicate the data. Indicators should preferably be derived from statistics or existing studies. Some of the indicators measured whether actions really produced the immediate outputs that were expected. Other indicators were looking at the impacts: whether the sedentary lifestyles of the residents were actually getting more active.

"Physical activity is a huge area and most units of the city organisation are linked to it in one way or another," says Paajanen.

"People are amazed to see all the concrete work and actions, and also indicators, that the city of Helsinki is already implementing. They have had no idea how many things the city does and how their own role links to the objectives."

Minna Paajanen, Project Manager

The key is to understand how daily activities link to a more active lifestyle. This applies both to the city units with their responsibilities in the physical activity program and the residents who can activate their own life with support from the city.

Kausal Watch helps in keeping that information organised and available for everyone. Distributed updating the tasks and automated email reminders make sure that the city units don't forget what they are expected to achieve.


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