Wehrmedizinische Monatsschrift


The Sports, Medicine and Health Summit” 2021 in Hamburg

Dieter Leyka,b, Ulrich Rohdea

Read German version

1 Bundeswehr Institute for Preventive Medicine, Andernach, Germany

2 German Sport University Cologne, Research Group Epidemiology of Performance


The first „Sports, Medicine and Health Summit“ was held from April 20st -24th 2021. The summit was founded to form an international and scientific platform to lend a voice to the active promotion of health and physical activity which will be clearly audible to politics. The Bundeswehr Institute for Preventive Medicine was present with an own dedicated session and 3 high calibre lectures.

The Hamburg Declaration: A call to action for politics

As part of the inaugural “Sports, Medicine and Health Summit” (SMHS), the “Hamburg Declaration” was signed on April. 21st ,2021. Signatories include the City of Hamburg, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Federation of Sports Physicians (FIMS) and the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB). This global alliance of renowned associations, organizations and professional societies calls on politicians to grant higher priority to the promotion of health and physical activity as well as to the provision of structures and resources to enable the comprehensive, efficient and sustainable establishment of healthy and active lifestyles .

First step already taken by the Bundeswehr ­Medical Service

The Bundeswehr Medical Service has already taken a first step to get involved: The Bundeswehr Institute for Preventive Medicine is a member of the global health initiative “Exercise is Medicine (EIM)“. Purpose of the EIM framework is the improved cooperation of the various healthcare providers and to implement, for example , the prescription of exercise and targeted health training as medical therapy. The aim is to reduce the incidence of widespread risk factors (such as metabolic disorders, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure) and potentially even cure these diseases by increasing physical activity.

More than 1400 participants

1400 experts from the fields of medicine, psychology, sports and health sciences, as well as therapists, trainers and representatives from politics, media and business attended the interdisciplinary, and –due to the COVID-2 pandemic- virtual “Sports, Medicine and Health Summit” on April 20th -24th , 2021. The summit is intended to become an international platform of exchange for actors from health related policy and science. It will be held bi-annually in Hamburg in the future. You will find additional information on the SMHS as well as the announcement of the 2023 Summit , and the latest news an downloads at https://www.sports -medicine-health-summit.de

SMHS meets Bundeswehr

At this high-calibre congress, the Bundeswehr was represented with the dedicated session “SHMS meets Bundeswehr: Healthy and operationally fit in the Bundeswehr” and 3 presentations [1–3]. The session made a decisive point for the importance of research in the context of health, performance, work and deployment in and for the Bundeswehr. The highly regarded session yielded an indisputable result and conclusion: A successful and sustainable promotion of healthy and active everyday habits within the Bundeswehr will hardly succeed without high- quality and application-oriented prevention research.

Efficient health promotion even more pressing due to COVID

The Corona pandemic has reinforced the negative health and performance trends that have been observed in society for years and has made the need for efficient and effective health promotion even more urgent. For example, a nationwide and representative study by the Technical University of Munich shows that more than 50 % of participants have exercised less and 40 % have gained more than 5 kg [5] since the beginning of the Corona crisis.

The German Armed Forces, too, will not be spared by these effects of the Corona pandemic, and it will become more difficult to ensure a sufficient number of soldiers who are ready for operations and able to perform. In this context, results from the AVU-IGF medical assessments, which have been introduced force-wide on January 1st . 2019, are cause for concern . Analyses show that, even before the start of the pandemic , roughly a quarter of the soldiers in the 40–49 age bracket were deemed medically unfit to participate in the compulsory annual IGF (shooting, NBC and medical training) and KLF assessments (6km march, Basic Fitness Test, swimming) [4]. Obviously, the current combination of mandatory sport and physical exercise on duty and operational health management implemented in the Bundeswehr are alone is insufficient to promote health as well as physical and mental performance. One promising option to solve this problem is the application of behavioral economics, a science combining insights from psychology and economics. Behavioral economics provides important insights and practical options for improving health behavior and individual operational readiness, such as the use of incentive schemes and anchor effects [3][4].


  1. Glitz KJ, Sievert A, Rohde U, Piekarski C, Leyk D: Exertional overheating in the civilian and military sector - an underestimated hazard. WMM 2021; 65(11): 426-428 mehr lesen
  2. Koch A: Maritime sports medicine in the Bundeswehr: From seasickness to diving accidents. WMM 2021; 65(11): 429-430. mehr lesen
  3. Küper K, Schramm S, Witzki A, Leyk D: Optimisation and incentive options for health behaviour and individual operational readiness. WMM 2021; 65(11): 431-433. mehr lesen
  4. Leyk D: The problem of “individual operational readiness”: facts and options. WMM 2021; 65(3-4): 122-126. mehr lesen
  5. Technical University of Munich: "Corona befeuert eine andere Pandemie." Press Release Results from the TUM-Study on dietary habits and physical activity since the beginning of the Covid pandemicCorona-Epidemiologie: , last access October 7, 2021. mehr lesen


Oberstarzt Prof. Dr. Dr. Dieter Leyk

Institut für Präventivmedizin der Bundeswehr

Aktienstraße 87, 56626 Andernach

E-Mail: dieterleyk@bundeswehr.org