The anniversary pillbox package as it was offered to Bolognese residents, Source: San Giovanni in Persiceto Municipality

Movement pills: Bologna good practice spreads to all of Italy

Movement pills: Bologna good practice spreads to all of Italy

Free gym and sports activities are offered in a creative, yet familiar, package

Two weeks ago, an Italian national campaign called “Movement Pills” (Pillole di Movimento) was launched from the city of Bologna. The aim of this campaign is to distribute free 1-month offers for gym and sports activities in order to counteract sedentary lifestyles in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The curious twist is that these leaflets will be packaged into what resembles ordinary medical pillboxes, and just like those, they will be available in the pharmacies, though free of charge. The objective is to drive home the idea that the ultimate remedy for many of today’s illnesses is physical exercise and movement.

Scaling up of good municipal examples

The campaign partners are the Italian Sports Department, 31 Uisp committees (a national non-profit organization promoting sports activities since 1948) and 235 municipalities in the country.

The packs of "Movement Pills" distributed throughout the country, contain free coupons that allow you to choose from a range of over 1200 sports and motor activities promoted throughout Italy. In fact, the leaflet contained in the box, very similar to that of an over-the-counter drug, allows you to take advantage of a free month of physical activity and is delivered by the pharmacist, the way any other medicine would be.

It is expected that 480,000 such pill packages will be handed out right at the spot where people tend to go to seek help for their health issues. The campaign aims to show certain targeted groups that there is more to health than simply going to the pharmacological route.

The idea itself was born in Bologna back in 2011, thanks to a wide network that was created between Uisp, the local health authorities and the pharmacies involved. There it proved to be a winning and absolutely innovative project, which has established itself in the territory of that municipality for more than a decade now.

Now, thanks to this national project, it will be launched for the first time throughout the Italian territory. A perfect example of the scalability and transferability of local practices to wider audiences.

Thanks to all the partners for taking a bet on this initiative. It is a proposal that is as good for the elderly as it is for the young. As a councillor for sport, I have seen how difficult it is to convince people that something that is good for you is so easy to do. Right now leaving the house can seem like a difficult step, and finding a community that organizes itself to provide opportunities for movement and meeting is no small feat," commented Matteo Lepore, mayor of Bologna, as quoted by Agenparl.

Sometimes, good ideas need a while to take root and mainstream acceptance and we at TheMayor.EU are here to shine the light on such examples of local initiative.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU