Using the most trustworthy data, collected by national surveys in the years 1995-2006, this paper outlines a general framework for understanding the Italian people’s choices in matters of sport, exercise and health. The size and the socio-demographic outlines of three groups - sporting people (30,2%), people who exercise (28,4%), and sedentary people (41%) - are presented and their distribution at the national and regional levels is clarified. By a factor analysis, four groups were identified on the basis of their motivation to participate in sport: health fans; members of sporting clubs for hedonistic reasons; members who join clubs to make relationships; and a residual group. Moreover, this paper tries to study the link between sport and health choices. In Italy one can distinguish six life styles: three healthy lifestyles and three less healthy or even dangerous. This general framework provides a useful basis for developing and implementing social policies in matters of sport, exercise and health in Italy.
Keywords: Sport, Exercise, Sedentary People, Social Politics, Health Life Style.