EU Science Hub

European Public Health Week: The JRC publishes an overview on physical activity

A physically active life is recommended for better health
May 14 2019

The JRC publishes an overview on physical activity related to health in the European Commission's Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Knowledge Gateway. This coincides with the first European Public Health Week.

Physical inactivity is among the leading risk factors for non-communicable diseases and premature mortality.

The Knowledge Gateway, developed by the European Commission, provides decision makers and EU citizens with up-to-date and independent information on many health promotion areas.

In addition to the physical activity brief published today, users can also find briefs on other important topics such as fats, fibre, protein, salt, fruit & vegetables, water, whole grain and alcoholic beverages.   

Almost half of the Europeans (46%) declare they never exercise or play sport. However, a physically active life is recommended for better health. Physical activity reduces, among others, risk for:

- cardiovascular disease

- coronary heart disease

- stroke

- high blood pressure

- certain cancers, such as breast, prostate and colon

- obesity.

The cost of physical inactivity in the EU is estimated at 84 billion euro. This includes both healthcare and non-healthcare related costs. This cost could be avoided if all Europeans were to achieve an average of 20 minutes per day of simple and inexpensive activities such as walking and running.

"Public health expenditure is among the largest and fastest growing spending items for governments. The information on the Gateway provides very important social and financial arguments for putting more emphasis on prevention of non-communicable diseases", says JRC scientist Ioanna Bakogianni.

Many EU countries have already established national recommendations and action plans to promote physical activity. These are available through this gateway. Their good examples and other recommendations may serve as inspiration to other countries and actors at different levels.