Physical activity, including regular exercise and sporting activity, is the best way of staying physically and mentally fit, helps to tackle weight and obesity issues, and plays an important part in preventing or reducing the impact of many other health-related conditions.
Apart from the individual health benefits, there is evidence on the positive direct and indirect economic effects of participation in sport and physical activity.
Research shows that too many people across Europe are not physically active enough. This has a serious impact on general health, the frequency of preventable diseases, and the number of premature deaths.
These, in turn, have considerable social and economic costs. While the promotion of health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) is primarily the responsibility of EU Member States, the Commission is able to support, coordinate and complement national actions.
The majority of activities in the field of sport now focus on implementing the Council's Recommendation to promote health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) in order to encourage the development of effective policies in the Member States.
A key element of this initiative is a light monitoring framework that takes into account the 2008 EU Physical Activity Guidelines and should help to improve information and data on HEPA levels and policies, as well as strengthening cooperation between stakeholders (such as the EU Member States, the World Health Organization, and civil society).
DG EAC has also been responsible for supporting projects in the field of physical activity in since 2009, and has included the promotion of HEPA as one of the priorities of the Erasmus+ programme, as well as part of the 2013-2017 European Statistical Programme for Sport.
Lastly, in order to identify trends in the EU, EAC regularly publishes a Eurobarometer on sport and physical activity.
The structures, working methods, and supporting tools for the implementation of the new Council Recommendation on HEPA are being set in place, and projects to promote HEPA will soon be launched.
Under the Erasmus+ programme, support for projects, events, and measures to strengthen the evidence-base for policy and for dialogue is foreseen, with a particular focus, in 2014, on activities to support the further implementation of the EU Physical Activity Guidelines.
Preparations for establishing a European Week of Sport, to be launched for the first time in 2015, are also ongoing, and further information will be provided in due course.