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Influencers as exercisers – for young people, low-threshold physical activities are all fun and games

The long-standing collaboration between the Olympic Committee and OP Financial Group has focused on promoting physical activities for children and young people. The Liiku mun kaa campaign, which started in June 2021, inspired young people to move around by speaking to them in their own language and through their own channels.

Life during the pandemic has been boring for many young people, as restrictions on assembly have narrowed their opportunities to exercise, have hobbies and meet friends. Concerns about the physical immobility among young people led OP Financial Group and the Olympic Committee to consider joint communication to activate young people. 

Youtube, TikTok challenges and humour

Young people often shy away from instructions and advice given by authorities. We therefore sought influencers whom young people aged between 11 and 14 followed, and who encouraged them to take on physical activities that suited them, to become the face of the Liiku mun kaa campaign. The influencers who joined the challenge were ZoneVD a.k.a. Joona Leppälä, Ella & Helmi, weksi a.k.a. Henry Weckström, Pontzo and Nelli Kniivilä.

The influencers produced their own sports-themed content for their channels on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram. The content featured young people’s favourite sports, from disc golf to tricks. The influencers showed by their own example that physical activity doesn’t have to be about hard-core performance, but it can be a fun pastime with friends – having fun is an easy way to lower the threshold of exercise.

ZoneVD Joona, who has a bachelor’s in sports studies, suggested 10 low-threshold sports with the informational video “Try these sports”. In addition to disc golf, Leppälä recommended geocaching, padel, exercise video games, standup paddle boarding, jogging applications and freestyle tricks that can be applied to almost any sport. Leppälä emphasised independent exercise, where “everyone can challenge themselves as much as they like”.

Nelli Kniivilä challenged her followers on TikTok to try out balancing. Basketball enthusiast Weksi, on the other hand, produced two “Do it after me” basketball challenges on his own TikTok channel. In the challenges, followers were also asked to duet, i.e. to react and respond to the challenge with their own video. Ella & Helmi put together a topical “10 things to do in SUMMER” video, in which they tested football, trampoline and water jumps, and went swimming and cycling.

The content produced by the influencers reached more than 650,000 young people and managed to engage viewers effectively. The physical immobility of young people as a theme and the different forms of exercise also aroused genuine interest and discussion: 

“Thanks to you, I found disc golf, and now I’m completely hooked. :D”
“The opposite happened with me, because I started moving more during remote schooling than I did before it.”
“I’ve done all of them, and you should jump from 10, it’s not bad.”
“No 1. When we play football I relate to Helmi. I’m really scared of balls. And that’s why I don’t really participate in swing dodgeball or football, etc.”
“Doing tricks is the best.”

At national level, OP Financial Group is a partner of the Finnish Olympic Committee in promoting sports activities among children. This collaboration has a practical impact through local sports club activities. 

The Finnish Olympic Committee is a national sports and physical activity organisation that works to make people in Finland more active and successful in elite sports. With our member organisations and partners, we build vitality from exercise and sports in Finland.