Tag Archives: health

Top 5 reasons to try out yoga

So often people find themselves wanting to get active, but are completely unsure where to even begin to pick something from the massive amount of options available out there. If you are looking for something that will not only gently strengthen your body, but also free your mind, why not try out yoga?

Here are our 5 favourite reasons to roll out a yoga mat:

1. Your moment of zen: Yoga lowers stress and improves your mood

The meditation techniques often used in yoga are known to lower stress levels, help you focus on your breathing and as such, help to clear your mind – leaving you happier and more relaxed.

2. Tone it up: Yoga sculpts your muscles and improve your strength

While different yoga styles, from Hatha to Ashtanga to power yoga, range in physical intensity, all of them help improve muscle strength. The great thing about it is that different poses target different muscle groups from the upper body to hamstrings, quadriceps to abs, and to the lower back.

3. Stand tall: Yoga improves your posture

Say goodbye to slouching! Thanks to strengthened abdominal and back muscles, your weight is better supported and you are more easily able to sit or stand with correct posture.

4. Stretch it out: Yoga improves flexibility

Yoga safely stretches your muscles, ligaments and tendons and increases the range of motion in your joints.

5. Whenever, wherever: Yoga can be done anywhere

One of the best things about it is that you don’t need a gym or a fancy studio to do it in! Rain or shine, big bank account or tight budget, all you need is a mat and a floor to put it on – scratch that, yoga out in nature is amazing, so really, you don’t even need a mat, just some solid ground. We’d still recommend you start out with an instructor though!

Are you willing to give yoga a shot? We’d love to hear about it! #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.

The economic value of sport

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It’s been a while since we’ve shared an infographic on the blog, hasn’t it?

How about one about a topic we’ve only briefly touched on in discussing the many benefits of sport?

And it goes so much further than just these numbers: Recent projections show that the lack of physical activity in Europe can cost over €31bn per year. Indeed, according to another study, the economic burden of obesity in the EU amounts to between 0.09% and 0.61% of the total GDP.

While these are just estimates, it’s impossible to ignore the incredible effect it would have on our economy to encourage all Europeans to #BeActive. Imagine that!

So let’s all do our part. Join the movement. #BeActive

The truth: Physical inactivity levels in Europe vary drastically by country

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Some of the interesting, and concerning information that came out of the 2014 Eurobarometer report on sport and physical activity revealed how active people were in different European countries. Overall, 42% of Europeans never exercise or play sport, but when you break it down by country or region – that percentage can varies greatly.

For example, the proportion of people who exercise or play sport at least once a week is 70% in Sweden, 68%in Denmark and 66% in Finland. On the other hand, Bulgaria (78%) and Malta (75%) have the largest proportions of people who never exercise or play sport at all. Portugal (64%), Romania (60%), and Italy (60%) also have concerning levels of people never engaging in any form of sport or exercise.

From policy makers to ministries of education, labour etc., from parents to students, from city planners to community leaders – we all have a role to play.

In Finland for example, where they consider physical activity to be a basic cultural right, 73% of Finns are happy with how much their local authorities are doing to enough to provide citizens with opportunities to be physically active, and 66% of Finns exercise or play sport at least once a week.

As individuals, there are so many ways to get started (we’ve gathered some here, here, and here). Don’t forget to have a look at the map on our website to see what events and activities are happening around the European Week of Sport near you.

Join us and help transform Europe into a #BeActive society that values sport and physical activity and the many benefits it provides us.

If you’re curious to know the statistics for your country, let us know, we’ve got an infographic for every European country – and we’re happy to share!

http://ec.europa.eu/sport/week/media-corner_en.htm

4 must-try ways to #BeActive with your dog

Oh how we love our dogs! Since we are always looking for fun ways to #BeActive, how about these four that involve man’s best friend:

  • Play catch: head to the park or a local beach with a Frisbee or a ball and have some fun playing catch with your happy dog. Both of you will enjoy and benefit from the exercise!
  • Go hiking: why not enjoy a little nature getaway with your favourite buddy? Check first to make sure dogs are allowed and plan a trek for the both of you!
  • Go swimming: Most dogs love water! Take your pup to a beach, lake or pool, and join in the fun!
  • Doga’, or Doggy Yoga: This new trend gives a new meaning to ‘downward facing dog’. Classes help you bond with your dog while providing them with the same health benefits you gain. What’s not to love?

And because who doesn’t like a puppy video, click here for some more inspiration.

Being active with your best buddy is fun, easy and a great bonding experience! So… what are you waiting for! #BeActive

 

 

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.

Find your way: a map of #BeActive events and activities

Did you know there are activities taking place throughout Europe in September that are part of the European Week of Sport?

We’ve developed a map of these events and activities on our website to help you find one near you.

It’s being regularly updated, so don’t forget to check back as we get closer to September to make sure you don’t miss anything.

The European Week of Sport aims to build a more active Europe, but we can’t do it without you. We hope that you’ll encourage your friends and family to join you in one of the many available activities.

Pssst! You don’t have to wait until September to get active, there’s still time for you to join the #MyWeek #BeActive Challenge and win prizes.

Physical activity: What 8 of the world’s greatest minds had to say

Fasten your seat belts and put on your intellectual hats, we are taking a trip through time to share with you what some of the best minds have said about physical activity through the years:

“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.” Plato

”Without exercise, a good diet alone is not sufficient and eventually medical treatment will be needed.” ◊ Hippocrates

“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.”Cicero

“In every school a gymnasium, or place for physical exercise, should be established for the children. This much-neglected provision is, in my opinion, the most important part of education, not only for the purpose of forming robust and healthy physiques, but even more for moral purposes.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.”Robert de Ferrers, First Earl of Derby

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live! Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow…a thousand rills which have their rise in the sources of thought burst forth and fertilize my brain…only while we are in action is the circulation perfect.” Henry David Thoreau

“Not less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise […]. The recipe […] is simple diet, exercise and the open air, be it’s state what it will; and we may venture to say that this recipe will give health and vigor to every other description.” Thomas Jefferson

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but instead will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” ◊ Thomas Edison

The value of sport and physical activity is no secret – our greatest minds have known for thousands of years how important it is to lead a healthy and fulfilled life. Now we all just need to work together to make sure we embody those values once again. #BeActive

Physical activity: The gender gap

Let’s talk about women for a moment.

We’ve given you statistics about how active Europeans are, and as you know by now, the numbers aren’t looking good. Unfortunately, they are even worse for women. In fact, 63% of women in the EU never or seldom exercise or play sport.

The WHO underscores the importance of physical activity for women by highlighting its contribution to building self-esteem and confidence, and providing a vehicle for social integration and equality for women in society. Research has shown that sport can help to challenge gender norms and provides women and girls with opportunities for leadership and achievement.

Furthermore, physical activity has been shown to reduce the occurrence of many of the diseases and conditions that affect women across globe, including breast cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

So, what’s the hold up?

Men in the EU play more sports than women overall. However, the disparity is particularly marked in the 15-24 age group, with young men tending to exercise considerably more (71% at least once a week) than young women (50% at least once a week).

What’s shocking is that the gender divide in physical activity starts as early as seven years old! Indeed, according to a study in the British Medical Journal[i]., only 38% of seven-year old girls, compared to 63% of boys were achieving the required amount of physical activity.

This needs to stop.

The European Week of Sport is working to make sure ALL Europeans get moving and work together to build a #BeActive society. Ensuring that girls have access to opportunities to engage in sport and physical activity – particularly in the educational setting – is a critical step to closing this gender gap.

[i] Griffiths, Dezteux, et.al, “How active are our children? Findings from the Millenium Cohort Study”. British Medical Journal, 2013

Five surprising ways sport clubs benefit children and youth

More good news about the incredible benefits of physical activity! Here are five amazing things that children and youth get out of being a member of a sport club:

Healthy bodies, healthy minds

Through the development of healthy physical activity habits, children and youth are not only supporting healthy bodies, but are also likely to show improved performance in school. Another terrific advantage of sport clubs – which generally involve a long term commitment – is that if young people are physically active from an early age, they are more likely to continue to be so in early adulthood.

Social skills

Structured activities, such as organized sports, are linked to lower levels of antisocial behaviour in children.  Indeed, sport clubs can help them develop important social skills such as good citizenship, positive peer relations and respect for authority through learning to interact not only with other children their age, but also with older individuals in their coaches and sports officials.

Self-esteem

Studies have shown that those who engage in sport and physical activity are more confident – this is particularly important in child development. Sport clubs allow children and youth to build self-esteem as they learn to trust in their own abilities, receive encouragement and praise from coaches and parents, and learn to accept constructive criticism.

Skill building

Sport clubs provide an opportunity for children and youth to learn skills that will help them in school, as well as in their future careers and personal relationship. Through engagement in sport, they learn leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, responsibility, self-discipline, and a sense of initiative.

Tolerance

Sport clubs help children – especially those who are disadvantaged – build last friendships and feel part of a wider community. By bringing together individuals from different races, religions, genders and economic backgrounds, sport can promote mutual respect, tolerance and understand.

 

Sometimes it truly is incredible to take measure of all the benefits of sport and physical activity. #BeActive