Tag Archives: Europe

Greater Manchester – a local #BeActive success story

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, EVERYONE has a role to play in building a more active Europe. Today, let’s discuss what cities can do to support and encourage #BeActive residents.

Let’s have a look at Manchester, in the UK. In January, 2014 Manchester was dubbed “the laziest city in Britain” with 40% of its residents doing less than half an hour of exercise a month! When you consider the fact that the WHO recommends 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week, it is clear Manchester’s population was in trouble. However, instead of standing by and continuing to contribute to the inactivity crisis, the city had already been developing a plan to get people moving again, through the “Greater Manchester Moving” campaign. As part of the city’s effort to become one of the “fastest growing self-sustainable city regions by 2020”, it recognised the impact that inactivity posed to the health and life expectancy of its citizens and its economy.

They offered opportunities to city dwellers to run and cycle by creating more active and sustainable environments and promoting them. They developed programs for everyone – from children to seniors. A good example is their BetterbyCycle programme which aims to deliver cycle training, recreational cycling, mass participation events, awareness campaigns and capacity building within inactive communities, workplaces and schools!

Quite impressive, right? These are the types of initiatives that decision-makers can support to encourage residents to get moving.

Does your city have a #BeActive success story? We’d love to hear how your local authorities and decision-makers have helped provide you with more opportunities to engage in sport and physical activity.

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.

We challenge YOU: the #MyWeek #BeActive Challenge

Want to get moving? We have just the right incentive (hello prizes!) in the form of the #MyWeek #BeActive Challenge.

What’s that all about?

It’s simple. We’re challenging you to #BeActive at least three times in any one week – and to prove it by posting a photo or video of you being active on the social media channel of your choice. By taking part, you’ll get a chance to win some cool prizes.

You’ll have to follow a few rules to make sure you’re in the running, so here’s what you need to know:

  • The challenge runs from 15 June to 14 August.
  • Take a photo or video of you engaged in sport or physical activity 3 times over the course of one week and share via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Each entry has to include both the #MyWeek and #BeActive hashtags.
  • You must post at least 3 entries in one week (i.e. three different photos or videos) to be deemed to have successfully completed the Challenge, and thus be in the running for a prize.
  • Each week offers a new opportunity to win! Take part in the Challenge as many weeks as you like.

We’ll pick prize winners every couple of weeks and once the Challenge period is closed on 15 August, we’ll pick an overall winner for the big prize (it’s good, we promise!).

Dust off your trainers. Try a new sport. Take a long walk. Hit the gym. Bike to work. Dig your garden. Sprint up the stairs. Skip in your front room… There are many ways you can incorporate physical activity into your daily life and inspire other Europeans by posting your efforts!

It’s simple, quick, and fun, so why not to challenge your colleagues, friends and family members to take part too? Find out more Take the #MyWeek #BeActive Challenge.

Start today? Be creative. #BeActive

#BeActive: Tomorrow starts today

#BeActive: Tomorrow starts today

There is a high chance that you are reading this blog while sitting down. In fact, statistically speaking, you will likely spend 5 to 6 hours seated today – and not nearly enough time being physically active or engaging in sport. According to a recent Eurobarometer, 59% of Europeans never or seldom exercise or play sport, and 74% are not members of any sport clubs. More alarming is that children are 50% less active by the age of 15 than they were at the age of 9… The facts are clear: people have become less active and are leading more sedentary lives. We sit more, we choose less active commutes, we work in jobs that require little or no physical activity, we shop online – you get the picture…

There’s a serious side to all this: increasing rates of inactivity are having a really negative impact on people’s health. The scientific community and other experts have raised the alarm. They’re calling sitting the ‘new smoking’ and highlighting the risks to health of today’s sedentary lifestyles.  And it doesn’t just affect individuals: our society and economy as a whole take a hit, through increased spending on health care, a loss of productivity in the workplace, reduced employability and more…

But it’s not all bad news! There is a way to reverse the trend.

The European Commission is launching the first annual European Week of Sport to encourage, challenge and inspire Europeans to integrate more sport and physical activity into their daily lives. Everyone across Europe has an important role to play in transforming our culture of inactivity into one that values physical activity and sport. It takes decision-makers and employers, local authorities and urban planners, parents and teachers, employees and students to get engaged and support each other in building healthy and more active communities, cities and lifestyles.

And you can find out how here

We hope you’ll be a part of our #BeActive online community. Tell us how you are staying physically active – even just the simple things, like taking the stairs or getting off the train to work one stop early. And how can you inspire others to be more active? Take a look at the rest of the website to learn more about the European Week of Sport.  Keep an eye on the blog. Follow us on social media… We’ll be sharing tips on how to be more active, interviews with inspiring people, and lots lots more. There will even be opportunities for you to get engaged and win prizes!

We’re starting a movement. Be part of it. #BeActive