Tag Archives: inspiration

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

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

Sport: Strengthening communities and supporting social inclusion

Let’s take a more serious tone for a moment, and discuss one of the major reasons we are promoting the European Week of Sport. We haven’t talked much about it so far in this blog, but it one that is a fundamental motivations behind much of our work: social inclusion.

Sport is a universal language, one that can be spoken by everyone, no matter their gender, religion, disability, age or income group. It has also been recognised by the United Nations, the World Bank, and many experts around the world as being a powerful tool with which to combat social exclusion, promote intercultural learning and reduce social tensions.

At this point (if you’ve been reading our blog!), most of you know the physical and mental benefits of sport – and how important it is to get European to #BeActive as early in life as possible. But another incredibly important reason to get children and youth involved in sport is that it helps them build strong values – self-discipline, respect for one’s opponent, fair play, teamwork and adherence to mutually agreed upon rules and structure. These values, which embody some of the best that sport has to offer, carry over into people’s everyday lives, into their homes and workplaces and more importantly into their community.

So you see, it’s a win-win for Europe and for Europeans if we can achieve the objectives of this campaign. Think about it: how many other things offer the innumerable benefits of sport? Healthy bodies, healthy minds, creativity, success, self-esteem, healthy economies, thriving communities, FUN…we could go on, but we think you get the idea.

Yes, we want to get Europeans moving, but this movement is about so much more than just that. Join us, we can’t do this without you. #BeActive

10 creative ways to enjoy the outdoors

Summertime should be filled with a variety of activities to enjoy the outdoors. We thought we’d share some creative ideas to jump start your motivation:

  • Have a #BeActive picnic: enjoy a meal with friends and family – but be sure to bring along a Frisbee or a ball to squeeze in some active fun!
  • Volunteer: whether you partake in a beach clean-up, plant trees or work in a community garden you’ll get more than just physical activity, you’ll also get karma points!
  • Plant a little garden: this is a great low impact way to #BeActive, and you can get your children to help you out.
  • Explore nearby woods: if you’re lucky you may stumble upon a berry patch, or interesting creatures (hopefully not the scary ones!)
  • Go shell collecting: spending the summer at the sea? Take the time to walk along the beach and collect shells!
  • Look to the stars: Looking for something romantic to do? Why start the night with a long walk and end it with some stargazing?
  • Sack race to the finish line: set up a sack race for the kids in your neighbourhood – a great, and active way to build a stronger sense of community. Fun is guaranteed!
  • Fly a kite: buy one or make your own, head to the beach and watch it glide!
  • Dance like no one’s watching: it’s festival season, get out there and enjoy the music, the crowd and the outdoors!
  • Build an outdoor play area: if you have a garden, consider setting a small space aside to build a sandbox, a treehouse or a garden patch for your kids to play in … let your ideas flow! It’s a great way to get you and the kids away from the screen.

Feeling inspired? Do you have any other creative ways to enjoy the outdoors? Share them with us! #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.

 

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

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

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.