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
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:
- 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
- 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.
- Support lung function… By exercising regularly your body becomes better at loading, transporting and utilising oxygen. Breathe on.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Your moment of Zen… Exercise reduces stress, anxiety and tension. Physical activity increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.