Tag Archives: fitness

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

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.

5 tips to stay motivated: #BeActive

We’ve all been there: Hitting a slump in your exercise routine can make it hard to stick to your physical activity objectives, even if you’re fully aware of all the benefits you’ll be getting out of it. Here are our top five ways to help you stay motivated:

Mix it up: Change your routine, take different classes, try new activities – whatever you do, don’t let yourself fall into a rut, where you find yourself bored with exercise. There are so many ways to #BeActive.

Set goals: Goals are a great way to motivate yourself and there is nothing better than accomplishing them – but make sure they are realistic, and include milestones into your plan.

Get a little help from a friend: An exercise buddy can help steer you in the right direction when you are feeling lazy or ready to give up. Remember, being active can also be social, walking with a friend, or hitting the gym together is a terrific way to bond while reaping the benefits.

Find your own routine: Break up your physical activity into 10-20 minute bursts if you don’t have time to exercise for a full hour. If you aren’t a morning person, don’t try to force yourself to hit the gym before work. There are so many ways to #BeActive – it’s just a matter of finding what works best for you and sticking with it.

Track your progress: Keep a fitness journal or use one of the many apps or gadgets that help track activity. It’s a great way to make sure you are reaching your objectives – and it’s a great feeling to see what you’ve achieved.

There you have it, the rest is up to you! Have fun and #BeActive.

Physical activity and older Europeans

It turns out that the frequency of physical activity amongst Europeans tends to decrease with age. The 2014 Eurobarometer survey on Sport and Physical Activity indicated that a majority of 15-24 year olds (64%) exercise or play sport at least once a week. However, this number drops to a disturbing 30% for the 55+ age group.

While this disparity may seem to make sense – as we do tend to associate physical activity with younger people – this is in fact a major problem. By 2020, a quarter of Europeans will be over 60 years of age. This will have a significant impact on our health and health care systems as well as on our economy and communities. That is why it is so important to support active and healthy ageing.

Physical activity is extremely important for older adults. In addition to the many benefits we’ve already discussed, it:

  • Improves immune function, stamina, muscle strength and balance;
  • Reduces falls and injuries, helps maintain the ability to live independently;
  • Helps reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes and other illnesses; and
  • Helps control joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis.

According to the WHO – older adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week. That’s not much, and the benefits are well worth the effort. It’s never too late to start, but be sure to check with your doctor before venturing into a new activity.

Remember, active time can be social time – so track down a physical activity program in your community – one that offers aerobic, strengthening and flexibility components, or form a walking group with your friends. Get into gardening, or take up swimming or Tai Chi.

The options are endless – be creative, #BeActive.

 

Everything you never knew about golf

Golf is an enjoyable sport for people of all ages, offering a peaceful venue for both companionship and competition.  The sport is good exercise and a great way to appreciate a natural setting with the people you enjoy spending time with most.  Golf also has the advantage of being a sport that you can play your entire life. Europe has over 6,000 golf courses, providing the opportunity to play different courses and enjoy a wide range of natural environments.

Playing golf has numerous health benefits – it’s a great way to be active, stay active, and enjoy being active.

  • During an 18-hole round of golf players take at least 10,000 steps and travel over 8 km.
  • The spectators at a golf championship, such as The Open being played at St Andrews this week, will walk many kilometers to watch their favourite golfers.
  • Walking 18 holes of golf while carrying your clubs can burn over 2,000 calories.
  • Playing golf regularly improves your balance. Older golfers especially have better static and dynamic balance than their non-golfing peers.
  • The walking involved in playing two rounds of golf per week is equivalent to the UK government advice on weekly physical activity.
  • The walking involved in playing two rounds of golf per week is equivalent to the exercise component of the Diabetes Prevention Project which prevented 70% of high risk individuals from developing diabetes.
  • A Swedish study found that the death rate for golfers is 40% lower than for other people of the same sex, age and socioeconomic status, which correspond to a 5 year increase in life expectancy.

Start02 playing golf

Wellbeing benefits of golf

Although the sport can be played individually or in pairs, golf is often played in groups of three or four people.  Many golfers enjoy friendly competitions with their playing partners, which is a great way to make the sport even more exciting.

  • Because golfers walk between shots, these windows of time are perfect for talking with your playing partners.
  • Golf courses have clubhouses which provide further venues to enjoy the company of good friends before or after your game.
  • Research has shown that participation in golf can reduce anxiety and increase self-confidence.

The integrity of a golfer

Most forms of golf do not have referees and, therefore, the sport relies on the integrity of individual players.  Golfers are expected to keep their own score and report it honestly.  Golfers are respectful of one another and often will applaud a good shot of a playing competitor.  The etiquette of golf is an integral part of the sport and it features in the Rules of Golf.  Playing golf is an effective way to teach young people values such as honesty, integrity and respect.

What03 is golf

Golf and the natural environment

Golf is a sport that is often played in beautiful natural settings.  Whether it is amongst mountain ranges, by the coast or through a forest, playing golf is a wonderful way to get outside and enjoy the natural environment; experts call this “green exercise”.  While on a golf course you can hear birds singing, wind rushing through the trees, or waves crashing on the beach.  Recent research has shown that golf courses can provide high quality bird habitat, and thus many courses appeal to naturalists and bird watchers.

What are you waiting for? Start playing golf

 There are lots of choices for how to play golf and many venues will loan or hire the equipment you need to get started.  If you have friends that already play, ask them to take you along and introduce you to the sport.  If you don’t know anyone that plays, you can simply approach any local golf facility where you will receive a warm welcome and all the advice and support you need to get started.

Your national golf governing body will also be able to help you identify a suitable facility at which to start playing; be it a driving range, practice centre or local club.  You can find your national governing body in Europe by visiting the website of the European Golf Association at ega-golf.ch

About Golf Europe

Golf Europe is a group of major golf stakeholders collaborating to develop the sport and enhance golf’s contribution to European society.  Approximately 7.9 million European citizens play golf in an industry that contributes over €15.1 billion to the European economy.  Golf Europe seeks to operate in the best interests of golf at the pan-European level.

The Open Championship

 Golf’s oldest major championship, The Open, is being played this year July 16-19, when it returns to St Andrews, the home of golf.  Please check your local listings for television coverage.

 

#BeActive in the urban jungle: why it matters

Ahhhh summertime….. When cities seem to come alive, parks are filled with families, and people can enjoy balmy evening walks. What better time is there to take advantage of your city’s outdoor spaces to #BeActive?

Here’s an interesting bit of news: A recent study found that cities with residents that are physically active have better economic productivity, higher property values, and improved school performance than those with more sedentary populations. Add to that a healthier population, and it’s hard to imagine anyone disagreeing on the importance of designing cities that support #BeActive living.

With more than 50% of the world’s population living in cities today, and two thirds expected to do so by 2050, creating urban settings that provide opportunity for outdoor sport and physical activity is more important now than ever. Parks, cycling and pedestrian lanes, playgrounds, and outdoor gyms are just some of the many elements that help build active cities.

Here are some tips that city planners and decision makers could take into consideration (for more, have a look at our website here):

  • Promote the use of more active forms of transport, and encourage residents, when possible, to leave the car at home;
  • Develop well-lit walking paths around neighborhoods; and
  • Provide greenspaces and playgrounds that are safe and easily accessible.

Here’s the thing though: It isn’t enough to ask city planners and policy makers to make these changes. Currently, 76% of Europeans say there are opportunities to be physically active in their local area, but only 41% of Europeans say they engage in sport or physical activity at least once a week. That means that despite having access, people are not taking advantage of the opportunities that are available to them – including those outdoors.

That’s why the objective of the European Week of Sport is so important. We are working to build a more active Europe, one that values sport and physical activity more. In order to achieve this, we need to inspire, encourage, and help Europeans to get moving.

What better place than the outdoors? What better time than the summer? #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

#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.