Tag Archives: #BeActive

Tales from the European Week of Sport: The European Sport Village

Now that it has all come to an end, we have so much to share with you!

In Brussels – where the official opening of the Week took place on 7 September – a European Sport Village was set up. Why? Well… knowing that 59% of Europeans never or seldom exercise or play sport, we decided to work with partners to create a local, fun, and accessible environment where people of all ages and walks of life could easily engage in sport. The European Sport Village offered people a great opportunity to try out different sports and get inspired by the multiple benefits sport can provide! From football to pony riding, families, young adults, colleagues, seniors and tourists had the opportunity to try out about ten different activities.

brussels, 7 Sept. 2015. Photos www.vivianhertz.be
brussels, 7 Sept. 2015. Photos www.vivianhertz.be

A tent was set up in the village by the European Commission to share information about the Week and physical activity facts and figures in Europe. Visitors were also invited to commit to be more active by signing the call for action (have YOU signed yet?) and fun goodies were handed out.
But that’s not all! About 10 exhibition stands were set up by our Partners to inform the public about their work to fight physical inactivity and introduce initiatives that promote social inclusion through sport.

Another great addition to the Week was that a few of our fantastic Ambassadors, including Paula Radcliffe, Clarence Seedorf, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, Jean-Michel Saive and Joel Gonzalez participated in activities during either (or both) the Opening and the Flagship event. It was a blast!
Stay tuned, we’ll be sharing all the incredible outcomes of the Flagship event, including who won awards, what recommendations emerged out of the four workshops that took place and, of course, pictures of our fabulous Ambassadors.

#BeActive

How to get started?

#BeActive: Tomorrow starts today

You’ve heard the statistics, you know what you need to do, but where to begin?

Take a moment to think about how physically active you are in your daily life by asking yourself a few questions. For example:

  • How many hours a day do you spend sitting down? (Don’t forget to include time sitting during your commute, at your desk, eating dinner, watching television, and so on).
  • Do you have easy access to parks and other green spaces? Are there biking trails nearby? Take a walk around your neighbourhood and keep an eye out.
  • How do you commute to work? If on foot – that’s active. If by car, that’s not…
  • And what about your kids? How many hours do they spend online or watching TV? And how much physical education do they do at school? How about their commute – is it active?

So, that’s the starting point sorted. Where do you go from there?

Adopting a more active lifestyle is a commitment you have to make, but it really doesn’t have to be overwhelming. There are many simple ways to #BeActive – and many settings in which to do so. It’s just a matter of finding what works best for you.

We’ve taken this into account and structured the European Week of Sport around four Focus Day settings – Education, Workplace, Outdoors, and Sport Clubs and Fitness Centres. These are some of the many places you can incorporate physical activity into your daily life. You could try taking a more active commute to work, go for a long walk this weekend or commit to taking the stairs whenever possible.

The possibilities are endless, and we’re here to help, so stay tuned for tips. We would also love to hear some of your ideas. Please share them in the comments section.

Get started. #BeActive. We challenge you: Take the #MyWeek #BeActive Challenge

Supporting #BeActive workplaces: Energy@Work

Technology has made our lives easier. Instead of taking the stairs we use the elevator, instead of walking to work, we park our cars as close as we can, instead of growing our own vegetables, we get them delivered straight to our doorsteps. A technological step forward indeed, but one that also impacts our health. Being active nowadays means that you make time to exercise. But in this time-consuming world we benefit to look for ways to integrate our activity in our daily life.

So much can be gained by making small, but valuable changes in our lifestyles – not only in our personal lives, but also in our professional environments. When people engage in physical activity, they have more energy, better focus and efficiency, and a more positive self-image.

Energy Lab’s Energy@Work program helps companies set up a health and wellness plan to inform, activate and motivate all employees to live healthier lifestyles. In order to achieve a real reversal of unhealthy habits, we focus on three elements: sport and physical activity, nutrition and mental health.

Take a moment to look at this stunning video showing the result of all the hard work that Adecco Win4Youth ambassadors have gone through to prepare themselves for cycling the Col du Tourmalet.

Every year, Adecco recruits new ambassadors worldwide to give them a once in a lifetime experience. Most of them are brand new to cycling, which makes the challenge even bigger. But with the support of Energy Lab they all went the extra mile to reach their goal.

Our sport coaches first test all ambassadors to understand their starting condition. Based on these results, the coaches set up a nutrition and sporting plan which they followed up closely. In preparation for the big event, training sessions are booked to evaluate the progress of each ambassador. During this phase, we keep an eye on the condition of each individual to be sure that they train in a responsible manner.

We believe that focusing on the wellbeing of employees allows companies to thrive on an individual and corporate level.

About the Energy Lab

Energy Lab trains and coaches recreational, competitive and professional athletes, in person as well as online with the Start2Run app and MyEnergyLab tool. Secondly Energy Lab develops exercise and wellness campaigns for companies under the umbrella Energy@Work. Energy Lab currently counts 4 labs in Belgium and the Netherlands, and is part of the Golazo Group.

WT3A0069

How sport contributes to society

Participating in sport and physical activity brings multiple physical and mental health benefits. But sport has an even more powerful societal role to play. It can help promote social inclusion and create more cohesive societies. How?

Sport has universal appeal and knows no cultural or socio-economic boundaries. It enables people of different ages, backgrounds and cultures, including those from marginalised or underprivileged groups, to get together and have fun! By bringing together those who might not usually interact socially, sport helps break down barriers and strengthen communities.

What’s more, by engaging in sport, young people can attain personal and professional competences which enhance their employability. This kind of ‘informal learning’ fosters teamwork, discipline and creativity, and imparts valuable ‘life skills’ such as leadership, taking responsibility, and so on. In this way, sport can contribute to a bigger picture, helping to tackle youth unemployment and ultimately stimulate economic recovery.

And it doesn’t stop there!

Not only is physical inactivity one of the leading risk factors for health in Europe, it’s also costing us a fortune from direct (health care) and indirect costs.

Transforming our society into one that is more physically active can, literally, save our economies a lot of money that we all know is needed elsewhere.

#BeActive

#BeActive workplaces: tackling the physical inactivity crisis

Have you been reading the news lately?

A couple of weeks ago, a study came out in the UK recommending that “office workers […] spend a minimum of two hours on their feet at work – building up to an ideal four hours – in order to avoid the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle.” It’s safe to assume that very few people can actually claim they do that.

Now, combine that information with the fact that 59% of Europeans say they never or seldom exercise, and it sounds like we’re facing quite the challenge in getting people up and moving more. The good news however, is that there are many ways to tackle it.

The workplace is one of the Focus Day settings of the European Week of Sport, and that’s because it’s one of the most important (and obvious) places where people can change their physical activity habits.

Are you an employee?

Fitting physical activity into your workday isn’t rocket science, and studies show that active employees are more successful in their careers. Try these tips:

Step up: You hear it all the time, but really, forget the lift and take the stairs more often

Take it outside: Embrace the walking meeting. Zuckerberg and Obama have already picked up this creativity boosting, healthy habit, why not you?

Activate your break: Use your lunch hour or coffee break to stretch your legs and get outdoors for a walk if you can. You might even want to consider squeezing in an afternoon gym session.

Make the most of your commute: Try using more active forms of transportation like cycling. If you take the metro or bus, consider getting off a couple of stops early and walking the rest of the way.

Are you an employer?

Having an active workforce means more productivity and less absenteeism. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Stand tall: Consider providing your employees with the option of upgrading to a standing desk (or even a treadmill desk!).

Partner up: with a nearby sport club or fitness centre to provide your employees with discounted access.

Develop a Wellness programme: Assess your employees’ needs and work together to build a programme that provides opportunity, access and support.

Does your office provide you with opportunities to #BeActive? Have you developed an innovative programme to support your employees’ wellbeing? We’d love to hear about it!

Active Children: EuropeActive accepts the challenge

One out of five children in Europe is affected by overweight or obesity, European children spend only 5% of their school-time in physical activities and less than 10% of them meet the WHO recommendations on physical activity. Research also shows that low levels of physical activity among children can cause bad performance at school and long-term health problems like adult obesity, heart disease and diabetes. These reports are the harshest and most brutal warnings that something has to be done.

 

ALCIS: “Action Learning for Children in School”

The ALCIS project (Action Learning for Children in School) came to life to tackle these key issues by striving to combine action and learning: children are truly at the core of the programme, teachers will guide them throughout the learning process and fitness instructors will support them for the action part. The main objective is to encourage children, their families and friends to be more active, more often… because it is not only fun but an investment for life.

ALCIS, an old appellation for Athens, is one of the most powerful goddesses – mostly known as the goddess of physical prowess and strength. She is a fitting symbol for the project that wants children to reflect about different lifestyle choices in relation to physical activity, stress management and overall well-being with the aim for a long-term impact.

We will cover five EU Member States (Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands and United Kingdom) and a total of 50 schools. Nearly 5,000 children will participate in at least four non-competitive group exercise classes. The project will start during the European Week of Sport with a first class group exercise adapted to children between 8 and 12 years old. In the following four weeks children will devote some weekly time to the implementation of the programme, which will end with a final fun group exercise – involving children’s families and friends – at the beginning of November 2015.

The ALCIS project started in May 2015 and will run for 12 months. It is funded with the support of the Erasmus+ Sport Programme of the European Union and it will contribute to the European Week of Sport focus day aimed at education, sport and young people on Tuesday 8th September 2015. EuropeActive is the leader partner and cooperates with other six not-for-profit associations across Europe in order to develop, implement and ensure the success of the project. These are: eurMind (Belgium), Ireland Active (Ireland), The Wellness Foundation (Italy), The Lithuanian Health and Fitness Association (Lithuania), Fit!vak (Netherlands) and Ukactive (United Kingdom).

About EuropeActive

EuropeActive formerly known as The European Health & Fitness Association (EHFA), with its origins in 1996 as a not-for-profit organisation, remains as the unique voice for the European health & fitness sector to all of the main EU Institutions. Its mission is to turn back the tide of inactivity and ensure that MORE PEOPLE become MORE ACTIVE as a result of a functional synergy between all of the sector’s actors.

EuropeActive has, among its membership, more than 10,000 facilities, 19 national trade associa­tions, sector leading suppliers, education providers and individuals.

Targeting physical inactivity in children: a focus on schools

If you’ve been reading our blog (and we hope you have!) you know the numerous benefits that sport and physical activity provide: happiness, more energy, better health, less anxiety …and on and on… what’s not to love! But what we did not stress enough is why it’s so important to start young!

Let’s look at the scary numbers first:

Childhood obesity is no joke – and it’s on the rise in Europe, where according to the WHO, one in three 11 year olds is overweight or obese. Furthermore, European children are 50% less physically active by age 15 than they were at age nine. As computer games, television and mobile devices take up more and more leisure time, physical inactivity is hurting Europe’s children. That’s the reality.

On the other hand, an increasing number of studies are coming out demonstrating the value of incorporating more physical activity into the lives of children. Active kids have been shown to perform better at school and develop more confidence. As we’ve already mentioned, physical activity also helps boost brain power and creativity – these are excellent added benefits for students of all ages. Finally, kids who embrace an active lifestyle are more likely to carry those good habits into adulthood – and that’s a good thing.

This is why encouraging physical activity in the educational environment is so important, and why the European Week of Sport has this setting as one of its Focus Day themes.

There are many ways to encourage kids to #BeActive, but it’s also important to support schools, educators and other decision makers in creating a culture that values more physical activity in the school setting – from nursery to university level.

We’ve shared some tips on our website, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. Have you heard of any innovative programs to get kids active? What do you do to encourage your children to fight inactivity? We would love to hear your thoughts.

Let’s work together to help Europe’s children and youth #BeActive!

Meet the #BeActive Team: Kari

I used to be a runner- the kind who runs not for health or weight loss but for fun. There  were running holidays and running friends, tough races in the mountains and long beautiful runs along hiking trails.

Then, suddenly in April 2012, I became someone with a slipped disc. When I left the hospital I couldn’t walk unassisted and the doctors told me I would never run again (they were wrong but that is another story). They also told me that the only sport I would be able to practice was freestyle swimming. At the time I could only swim breaststroke and didn’t even enjoy it that much, but I was determined to make the most out of it – not only would I learn to swim freestyle, I would also turn swimming into the kind of fun adventure that running used to be for me.

It was fairly obvious that pool swimming was not going to do the trick.

Sure, the first 100 meters of freestyle felt like an amazing achievement and I was thrilled the first time I actually caught up with the person in front of me in the lane (regardless of the fact that this someone was doing heads-up breaststroke and had distinctive white curls). But this was not what I wanted to do, this was not why I had learnt to swim.

I set about to look for my swimming adventure and quickly realised that there is one stretch of water that really stands out when it comes to swimming challenges, one swim that is more epic, more mythical than any other swim: the English Channel.

More people have climbed Mount Everest than have completed a Channel solo swim. It takes years to prepare for a challenge of this size and it was clearly beyond my reach.

Instead, I settled on doing a more manageable chunk of the Channel by registering for an international Channel relay team. There are six of us and we will take turns to swim an hour at a time. The past 12 months have been filled with pool sessions, Skype phone calls and a never-ending hunt for suitable lakes, rivers or beaches for open water training.

My swim is scheduled for 24 June and I am terrified.

The temperature in the Channel is currently a bone-chilling 13 degrees, cold enough to make your teeth hurt. Despite training for a whole year, I have not managed to fit in a single session of swimming in big waves. I am afraid of fish.  It is the world’s busiest shipping lane.

But it is ok to be terrified, if it was easy it wouldn’t be an adventure.

Kari is a Swedish national and has worked for the European Commission for more than three years. As the Social Media Team Leader in the Youth and Sport Directorate of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture, Kari is responsible for the digital and social media aspects of the #BeActive campaign.

Would you like to know how Kari’s adventure evolves? Follow the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Facebook account for updates on her progress.

Top 10 reasons to #BeActive. Do you know them all?

Many people are motivated to engage in sport and physical activity by the prospect of weight loss and/or an increase in fitness levels. The truth is, there is so much more to be gained. Here are our top 10 reasons to #BeActive:

  1. Reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer. This is no joke – the top 10 killers in the 50 highest-income countries are all connected to lack of physical activity
  2. Strengthen your bones… Physical activity slows the loss of bone density that comes with age. This is particularly important for women, who are most likely to suffer from osteoporosis.
  3. Support lung function… By exercising regularly your body becomes better at loading, transporting and utilising oxygen. Breathe on.
  4. Energy supercharge… It may seem counter-intuitive, but if you are feeling tired all the time, try exercise. It helps boost energy levels and reduce fatigue.
  5. Don’t worry, be happy… You know that feeling you get after a workout, swim or long walk? That’s from the endorphins released through exercise, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Exercise can also help alleviate feelings of depression.
  6. Self-confidence boost… Studies have shown increased self-esteem in those who exercise regularly. It also turns out that if you exercise outdoors, you’ll get an even bigger boost.
  7. Your moment of ZenExercise reduces stress, anxiety and tension. Physical activity increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.
  8. Creativity surge… Physical activity has been shown to boost creativity for a few hours. So think about squeezing a workout in during your lunch break if you have an important creative project to work on in the afternoon.
  9. Sweet dreams Regular exercise helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer – just don’t exercise too close to bedtime or the energy boost will keep you awake!
  10. Brain power Exercise sharpens your memory, concentration and brain power. Who doesn’t want a bit more of that?

So, you see, it’s about so much more than weight loss and a fit body. The benefits of participating in sport and physical activity are innumerable – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Watch this space to find out more and join the #MyWeek #BeActive Challenge.