Definition and infographic: What is Physical Literacy?


By Rachel Payne

Physical literacy is a relatively young concept, having been coined only 20 years ago, but it is rapidly gaining momentum in education and physical activity promotion, with many definitions and approaches now described, particularly in English. So what is physical literacy? And why do we need another definition?

Last year, the Physical Literacy for Life partners embarked on a new way of defining physical literacy that can be translated into different languages, starting with European languages. Previous definitions have been difficult to convert into different languages’ diverse ways of describing holistic education and physical movement, they thought. Therefore, the terminology should be straightforward, easy to grasp, and encompass the four dimensions they believe are at the core of the concept: the physical, cognitive, social and emotional domains of physical literacy.

Now we can reveal their definition:
“Physical literacy is the skills and attributes individuals demonstrate through physical activity and movement across their life course. It can be understood as a process and as an outcome that individuals pursue through an interaction of their physical, emotional, social and cognitive learning. These are the 4 interrelated domains that support the holistic development of physical literacy to help all generations to lead active, healthy and fulfilling lifestyles.”

French, Spanish, Bulgarian and Slovenian translations will be available soon.

Download our infographic below (click the graphic to open in full screen and zoom in) for an in-depth explanation of the four different domains of physical literacy and listen to our podcast with Dean Dudley to learn more.