Skip to main content

New Report: Greenland's Movement Habits Examined by SDU Researchers

For the first time ever, movement habits in a broad sense have been examined in Greenland

The report, just released, was prepared for the Greenlandic Sports Association by researchers from the University of Southern Denmark's Center for Research in Sports, Health, and Civil Society (CISC).

The study provides a detailed insight into the movement habits of the population and the significance of motivations, opportunities, and barriers to physical activity in the daily lives of Greenlanders.

The research indicates that movement habits are strongly influenced by the nature and conditions in which Greenlanders live, and also encompass many of the forms of movement found in Denmark, such as participation in sports and recreational activities.

Many Are Active

The study shows that a significant portion of adults in Greenland are physically active in various ways. The frequency and type of activity vary, but nearly all adults incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.

Participation in physical activities declines with age, especially after the age of 60. Conversely, the study shows a trend that the proportion of those active in nature increases with age. Thus, the highest percentage of active adults in nature is found among those aged 60 and older in Greenland.

The study also reveals that motivations for physical activity are not only about health but also about enjoyment (liking the activity) and well-being (doing something good for oneself).

Health, Enjoyment, and Well-being

Motivations for engaging in a specific activity are closely linked to the type of activity and to a much lesser extent to background variables such as age, gender, and education.

For example, health motivations are significantly higher for sports and recreational activities compared to outdoor activities, and the motivations for running are significantly different from those for playing football.

Comparing the results of Greenlanders' motivations for physical activity with those of a similar study, 'Denmark in Motion,' the three mentioned motivations rank highest in both Greenland and Denmark. However, there are noticeable differences:

- The most significant difference in motivations for adults to be physically active in Greenland and Denmark is found in the competition motive. "To compete with myself or others" scores 30% higher among adults in Greenland than among adults in Denmark, says project leader and researcher Jens Høyer-Kruse from SDU's Center for Research in Sports, Health, and Civil Society (CISC).

Opportunities and Barriers

Many adults in Greenland generally agree that they have good opportunities to be physically active in various types of facilities and areas where they live.

However, there are differences in the perception of opportunities across residence types. Residents of Nuuk, for example, perceive much better opportunities for physical activity in sports facilities than residents in other locations in Greenland.

Conversely, when it comes to the perception of having good opportunities for physical activity 'in nature and mountains' and 'on or in water,' it is residents of smaller locations who more often believe they have good opportunities for physical activity compared to other residence types.

Especially among adults in Nuuk, barriers such as 'prioritizing work or family time,' 'frequent adverse weather,' and 'feeling often too exhausted or tired' are more prevalent. Adults residing in towns and smaller locations generally report fewer barriers to being physically active.

The Significance of Urbanization on Movement Habits

The researchers behind the study are still working on analyses with a particular focus on the significance of urbanization for movement habits in Greenland.

"Our results suggest that urbanization can create a divergence in the choice of physical activities, where residents in Nuuk and regional towns are more likely to participate in sports and recreational activities but participate much less in traditional outdoor activities in Greenland," says Ph.D. student Birgitte Westerskov Dalgas.

This complex dynamic underscores the need for differentiated approaches to promote physical activity in different types of residences.

One Step Closer to "Vision 2030"

The report is intended to provide specific benchmarks for increasing physical activity, in line with the Greenlandic Sports Association's vision of becoming the 'World's Most Physically Active Country by 2030.'

The report and the study mark the beginning of a campaign that will focus on the initial phase of the vision and the strategy of the Greenlandic Sports Association.

Facts About the Study "Greenland in Motion"

- "Greenland in Motion" is the largest national survey of movement habits among Greenlanders to date.

- It comprises two studies: an interview survey and a questionnaire survey, the first of its kind in Greenland, distributed via e-Boks.

- The project is conducted in 2022-2023 and is carried out by the Center for Research in Sports, Health, and Civil Society at the University of Southern Denmark.

- The project is supported by the Nordea Foundation with DKK 640,000.

Download the report (pdf in Danish)
Download the report (pdf in Greenlandic)


Bjørn Søvsø Jensen
Development Consultant
Greenlandic Sports Association
Mobile: +299 34 81 60

Jens Høyer-Kruse
Center for Research in Sports, Health, and Civil Society (CISC)
University of Southern Denmark
Mobile: +45 21 35 61 36
Editing was completed: 25.10.2023