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dr Marian Stelmach, prof. Józef Bergier, dr hab Barbara Bergier, dr Joanna Baj-Korpak, dr Michał Bergier, dr Dominik Dąbrowski, dr Iwona Gładysz, dr Zofia Kubińska, dr Ewelina Niźnikowska, dr Agata Pocztarska-Głos, dr Ewa Stępień, dr Małgorzata Wasilewska.


The epidemiology of physical activity constitutes a fundamental part of public health. Our research, conducted in collaboration with leading international scientific centres, has been included in the global stream of research on this issue. It has broadened the knowledge on physical activity (PA), as well as improved methodology and implemented new research tools. One of the main outcomes of the work conducted between 2010 and 2020 was the participation in European research aimed at developing an integrated physical activity monitoring system EUPASMOS. Additionally, we conducted extensive educational activities, promoted pro-health physical activities and disseminated research results on health risks associated with lack of exercise and the role of an active lifestyle in sustainable socio-economic development. The scientific and educational activities have significantly influenced policymakers in shaping strategies aimed at increasing the population level of PA in Poland and the EU.


The research on physical activity of different social groups launched in 2010 as part of international research grants, international and national multi-centre research and our own research provided knowledge and raised awareness among national policymakers in regard to the importance of taking intervention actions to increase levels of physical activity and counteract sedentary behaviour. Pioneer work conducted both in Poland and abroad, within such subpopulations as: pre-school, school and university students, adults and older people, as well as selected occupational groups, made it possible to assess their level of physical activity [R1-R3] as well as to understand the environmental and biological determinants of such activity [R4]. The obtained results in previously unsurveyed populations showed a high degree of correlations in terms of environmental determinants of physical activity levels. Additionally, the conclusions of The Toronto Charter for Physical Activity: A Global Call for Action, defining guidelines for governments and countries to take action on PA levels developed by the International Society for Physical Activity and Health were reinforced. PSW researchers, under the supervision of M. Stelmach, in collaboration with Fiona Bull (President of the Global Advocacy for Physical Activity ISPAH) and Karen Milton (President-elect of ISPAH), developed and disseminated the guidelines (in Poland and worldwide) in a Polish language version entitled “The Toronto Charter for Physical Activity: A Global Call for Action”.
Another outstanding achievement was the validation of physical activity monitoring tools conducted during the EUPASMOS Plus research (2018-2020, under the European Commission’s Erasmus+ grant (603328-EPP-12018-1-PT-SPO-SCP), which resulted in the development of new methodological proposals and standards of practice. Our researchers’ specific contribution in this regard includes the development of an integrated physical activity monitoring system, which enables the collection of comparable, reliable and credible data on physical activity, sport participation and sedentary behaviour from different populations. The European Commission, EU Member States, WHO and other organisations working to promote physical activity have used this methodological process to design, promote, implement and supervise – effective (evidence-based) – policies and strategies to encourage health-promoting physical activity and sport of adults across Europe [R5].


Research on physical activity of various social groups was conducted by 2 research teams supervised by  Bergier and Stelmach. The implementation of tasks since 2010 has contributed to the establishment of collaboration with many scientific-research centres in Poland, Europe and the world, resulted in several dozens of scientific papers significant for public health and the implementation of the idea of sustainable socio-economic development [R1-R4]. The most significant outcome was the participation in a research consortium of 18 European countries developing the EUPASMOS PA monitoring system for the European Commission used to design, implement and supervise policies and strategies to promote physical activity of EU residents. Our team’s specific contribution includes the conclusions on the inadequacy of the previously applied –subjective– tools of physical monitoring [R5]. This influenced the development of innovative methodology for monitoring population physical activity in Europe.


[R1] Bergier J, Kapka-Skrzypczak L, Biliński P, Paprzycki P, Wojtyła A.: Physical activity of Polish adolescents and young adults according to IPAQ: a population based study. 2012 Mar 23;19(1):109 115.
In 2011, the PSW research team under the supervision of prof.  Józef Bergier in collaboration with the Institute of Rural Health in Lublin conducted representative research on the level of physical activity in the Polish population of children and adolescents. The results indicated the need to continue and intensify exercises aimed at promoting various forms of physical activity among students and school children.

[R2] Bergier B, Bergier J, Paprzycki P. Level and determinants of physical activity among school adolescents in Poland. Annals of agricultural and environmental medicine: AAEM. 2014;21(1):75 78.
The above analysis was supplemented by a research on factors determining the level of physical activity of adolescents. The results indicated that girls tend to be less active than boys and prefer low-intensity efforts, mainly walking. It was also confirmed that the level of physical activity does not depend on the place of residence and that the main determinant of the overall level of activity is a number of physical classes per week.

[R3] Bergier J, Tsos A, Popovych D, Bergier B, Niźnikowska E, Ács P, et al. Level of and Factors Determining Physical Activity in Students in Ukraine and the Visegrad Countries. Int J Environ Res Pu [Internet]. 2018 Aug ; 15(8):1738.
The research on physical activity in students from selected Visegrad Countries and Ukraine was carried out between 2013 and 2016. The results revealed lower levels of physical activity among women as compared to men. It  was also concluded that body mass index (BMI) and high self-assessment of physical fitness constitute significant factors correlating with higher levels of physical activity.

[R4] Stelmach MJ, Wasilewska N, Wicklund-Liland LI, Wasilewska A.: Blood lipid profile and BMI-Z-score in adolescents with hyperuricemia. Ir J MedicalSci 1971 -. 2014 May 30;184(2):463–8.
A strong evidence exists to indicate the effectiveness of regular physical activity in preventing and treating dyslipidaemia and hyperuricaemia in children. The results of observational research conducted between 2004-2014 confirmed a higher prevalence of high uric acid levels in boys with higher BMI and lipid disorders. The results provide a strong basis for in-depth research into the support of therapy for hyperuricaemia with controlled physical effort.

[R5] Stelmach, M. Physical activity assessment tools in monitoring physical activity: the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ), the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) or accelerometers – choosing the best tools. Health Problems Civiliz. 12, 57–63 (2018).
The assessment of physical activity in epidemiological research is a major challenge for researchers. Both objective and subjective measurement methods are currently being used. This review article analyses the literature on the selection criteria and principles of applying these commonly used tools. The benefits and drawbacks of each are discussed and the results of major comparative validation tests are included.


Increasing health-promoting physical activity is in the interest of every human being, while changes on a population scale are already a matter of public health and must be of interest to public authorities. In the twenty-year period of its scientific activity, PSW provided decision-makers at the local, national and international level with many strong arguments for taking intervention and implementing proactive policies.

International impact

The results  the EUPASMOS project had international social effects. The integrated monitoring system developed as part of the project was implemented according to the expectations of the European Commission and is currently being used to monitor population changes in regard to physical activity among the EU member states. Thus, our research contributed to the introduction of a new standard for monitoring population physical activity in the European Union [S1]. Additionally, joining ISPAH-GAPA’s work on the development and promotion of the Polish version of the Toronto Charter had international impact. The ideas included in the Toronto Chart were transferred to the socio-political and scientific awareness of all Polish-speaking recipients thanks to the activity of PSW researchers. Scientific publications concerning the provisions of this document as well as its promotion allowed for the implementation of these ideas into national policies, programmes and services promoting physical activity and health [S2].

National impact

Social impact has been particularly visible in the field of physical culture, as well as in the promotion of physical activity and sport among children and young people. Among well-known and popularised government and local authorities interventions are such programmes as ” My sports field Orlik 2012″, “High School Youth Sports Training Centres” or “Stop Exemptions from PE.”. Thanks to these initiatives over 2500 sports fields have been built all over Poland, and over 600,000 teenagers can develop their sports interests in school sports centres. These nationwide achievements in the field of universal sport are connected with the research activities of J. Bergier and his PSW research team. J. Bergier, as a member of the Polish Parliament of the third term and a senator of the seventh term, actively implemented the results of scientific research to shape policies for physical activity and sport. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Science, Education and Sport and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Physical Culture and Sport, he initiated many activities based on scientific research data, including those conducted by PSW researchers (for example “Toronto Charter”, population-based research on children, adolescents and adults from various social groups). He was also the initiator of the development of female football as well as the main initiator of the establishment of High School Youth Sports Training Centres with the profile of women’s football in Poland [S3].

Regional impact

Owing to the activity of the research and didactic staff, especially of Tourism and Recreation as well as Physiotherapy faculties, and also due to constant collaboration and consultations with local self-governments, schools, sports clubs and social organisations, a regional programme activating the inhabitants of the town and commune of Biała Podlaska has been implemented for many years. An indirect effect of this initiative is the development of the town’ pro-activity infrastructure: a generally accessible swimming pool complex at the PSW or the construction of bicycle paths network in Biała Podlaska. Every year, PSW organises numerous sports tournaments, family recreational picnics (including events for people with disabilities). Additionally, PSW employees participate in the organisation and promotion of local sports events (e.g. “Biała is running” in collaboration with local organisations and the Polish Olympic Association as part of the nationwide programme “Athletics for Everyone”). The social importance of physical activity is particularly visible in case of physical activation of the elderly associated with the University of the Third Age at PSW [S4]. All these activities provided basis for the solutions developed and transferred to the national and international level.

Cross-border impact

The research activity of PSW has also resulted in involving the inhabitants of the cross-border areas of Brest (Belarus) and Biała Podlaska (Poland) in bicycle tourism. The implemented cross-border project “Bicycle trail – Traces of Nadbużański Mysteries” in collaboration with Brest University contributed not only to outdoor physical activity activation of the Polish and Belarusian community living in the Nadużański area, but also to the promotion of the beauty of cross-border areas of The Bug River Gorge.  The most significant outcome of the research  was the inclusion of the community disadvantaged by geopolitical conditions [S5].


[S1] Report of the European Commission on the implementation of the Council of Europe recommendations on the promotion of health-promoting physical activity.

In 2017, the EC HEPA Group of Experts reported the need to develop a EU integrated physical activity monitoring system. In response to this initiative, the research consortium of 18 countries was established, which, as part of the EUPASMOS project, developed an innovative, integrated system, currently used in the area of ​​pro-health promotion of physical activity in Europe. Poland in the project consortium was represented by a team of researchers from PSW supervised by Marian Stelmach, PhD.

[S2] The Toronto Charter to the benefit of Physical Activity: A Global Call for Activity – a document setting out the most important areas of action for social and political commitment to promote physical activity

The Toronto Charter is a global document requesting countries, regions and communities around the world to make greater political and social commitment to popularize pro-health physical activity. In order to successfully implement this appeal, four main areas of action based on nine guiding principles prepared in accordance with scientific evidence were defined. The researchers from PSW, under the supervision of M. Stelmach, PhD, developed and promoted the Polish version of this document.

[S3] Shaping the policy of movement activation in Poland – social and political activity of prof. J. Bergier

In his parliamentary work, J.Bergier, as a member of the Sejm of the 3rd term and a senator of the 7th term, actively implemented scientific research results to shape policies to the benefit of physical activity and sport. As the Chairman of the Senate Committee for Science, Education and Sport and the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Physical Culture and Sport, he initiated many activities based on data obtained from scientific research, including those conducted by PSW  scientists.

[S4] Movement activation of the local community – Biała Podlaska as a city of active inhabitants

The development of city’s pro-active infrastructure, organization and promotion of physical activity and local sports, scientific support for local authorities, schools, healthcare, private enterprises, and inhabitants themselves in popularizing physical activity. Thanks to joint activities of PSW and University of Physical Education in Warsaw Faculty in Biała Podlaska – the city has become a model to implement​​ global idea of the so-called healthy city (“a healthy city is an active city)”.

[S5] Activation of the cross-border community in the field of bicycle tourism

As part of PSW scientific – educational activities, a project aimed at activating cross-border communities in terms of movement by practicing bicycle tourism was conducted. In result, bicycle paths were marked and maps of the route entitled “Tracing the mysteries of the Bug River” were created. Then, the route was promoted thanks to the published guidebook. The information included in the guidebook encourages to take up one of the most attractive and accessible forms of active tourism.


Insufficient level of physical activity poses a global threat to public health. Although intervention methods aimed at encouraging activity among people by means of changing individual behaviours have been in use for many years, the  population level of physical activity is gradually decreasing. Thus, seeking broader determinants and dependencies regarding change of attitudes towards physical activity on a population scale provides an alternative to this approach.  One of them is an ecological model of physical activity considering individual influences, social and environmental factors – facilitating or inhibiting individual proactive behaviours. Focusing on physical activity combines the science and practice of many scientific fields: biology, psychology or sociology, considering the individual’s interaction with natural and social environment he comes into contact with during physical activity. On the basis of this approach the following determinants are considered: physiological, psychosocial, interpersonal relations, or public policies. This approach, called “heuristic model”, is used to fill in the gap between theory and practice, thus, constitutes the basis for the development of physical activity promotion programmes. The research programme of physical activity conducted at PSW in 2010-2020 regarded the ecological model described above and the principles of the population approach, which considered main research: health, people, economy and sustainable development.