Category Archives: European Week of Sport

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
brussels, 7 Sept. 2015. Photos

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.


We move as one

Since launching the first European Week of Sport, we have been amazed, inspired and motivated by the immense outpouring of support and participation from people of all ages and backgrounds across Europe.

From our partners and ambassadors, to the hundreds who participated in the #MyWeek #BeActive challenge, to the thousands participating in events and activities in over 30 countries, Europeans are embracing the #BeActive movement and working together to build a Europe that moves.

Together we can build on this momentum, reverse the inactivity crisis and carry a more active Europe into the New Year. We’re also looking towards the next European Week of Sport.

This is just the beginning.

Are you willing to sign our call for action? Click here and tell us what you’re going to do to #BeActive in the spirit of the European Week of Sport.

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!

Running a thousand and one miles for inclusion, love and openness

In the middle of August I will set off on a journey that will take me across Iran, more than 2000 kilometers, on foot from Bazargan, on the Iranian border towards Turkey, to Sarakhs, on the Iranian border towards Turkmenistan. The route will take me along the Silk road and the adventure is named ”Thousand and one miles” after the fairy tale.

I will the first person to attempt to make this crossing and I will do it alone. I plan to run about 35 kilometers per day and the journey will take me nearly three months – allowing plenty of time for meeting people and experiencing the culture along the way.

It took me a while to figure out why I so strongly wanted to do this trip. It was something echoing inside, demanding that I do it.

Running is of course about enjoying beautiful nature and meeting friendly people; there will be plenty of both in Iran. But surely there are easier ways to enjoy beautiful countryside and meet friendly people than running, as a single woman, through a Muslim country with sharia laws. Why? What did I want to prove?

Eventually I realised that it is about fear and about love. It is about the way I want our society and our world to be. I want it to be based on love. Today I see that fear is ruling parts of how we live our lives and how we build our world and societies. I see xenophobic political parties growing in popularity, in Sweden and elsewhere. I want to challenge my own fears and prejudices as well as those of the world around me.

It might not be possible to change the world by running but perhaps I could change myself, the people I meet and inspire a seed of change in those who hear about my run? At least it is worth a try.

By doing this trip, I hope to bring people closer to each other, and to contribute to a more tolerant, peaceful and loving world.

I want love to be the basis of all Life; I think that is why we are born and why we are here.

Kristina Paltén is a Swedish adventurer and ultra-runner. She has previously ran from Turkey to Finland, completing the journey home to Sweden by kayaking across the Bay of Botnia and she is the currently world record holder of the longest distanced covered in 48 hours on a treadmill.

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.

We’re extending our photo challenge! Win great prizes!

We asked you to help us get Europeans moving. Over the past months more than 250 of online users responded to our #MyWeek #BeActive photo-video competition by posting inspiring photos and videos on their social media channels. Internet has been flooded with amazing photos throughout our challenge! If you haven’t joined, but feel like joining, it’s not too late (check the guidelines here).

Thank you for spreading the love for physical activity with others and sharing your activities so openly. We appreciate you. Therefore, we decided to post some honorable mentions. Make sure to peek at each feed for their individual #MyWeek #BeActive photos.

So you’re thinking about joining? The rules are simple: post 3 videos or photos while doing some physical activity and win some prizes on the way. The idea behind it is to get you to #BeActive, so grab your camera, phone or tablet and take a photo of yourself engaged in each of your physical activities. Engage by following these guidelines. Spread the word and challenge your friends. Good luck!


















The economic value of sport


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


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!

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.