What is it about?

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.

Why is it needed?

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.

An excessively high level of physical inactivity was reported in the last Eurobarometer on Sport and Physical Activity from March 2018.

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.

What has been done so far?

The majority of activities in the field of sport now focus on implementing the Council Recommendation on promoting health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) across sectors in order to encourage the development of effective policies in the Member States.

That Council Recommendation establishes the collection of information and data on HEPA levels and policies, based on the EU Physical Activity Guidelines, and strengthens cooperation between stakeholders - EU Member States, the World Health Organization, and civil society. Country factsheets have been released in cooperation with the World Health Organization in 2015 and 2018.

The Commission has showed several positive developments in a report on the implementation of the Council Recommendation on HEPA. Among these developments were the adoption of many new policies and action plans as well as the strengthening of cross-sector cooperation at national level.

In addition, the Commission supports the Member States and the civil society by commissioning studies, such as a study on the EU Physical Activity Guidelines and a study on physical activity at the workplace.

DG EAC has included the promotion of HEPA as one of the priorities of the Erasmus+ programme.

The Commission has organised a seminar on "Encouraging Participation in Sport and Physical Activity", bringing together project co-funded by the EU from 2014 to 2016 under the sport chapter of the Erasmus+ programme, to exchange ideas, best practices, share case studies, and find possible synergies across the programme.

The European Week of Sport was launched in 2015, it takes place every year between 23 and 30 September.

Lastly, in September 2017, Lastly, in September 2017, Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, and Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, launchedlaunched the Tartu call for a healthy lifestyle, a call to promote healthy lifestyles in Europe, particular amongst children.

What are the next steps?

The Commission will continue to support the Member States in implementing the Council Recommendation on HEPA at national level, and to promote the functioning of the associated monitoring framework.

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 on activities to support the further implementation of the EU Physical Activity Guidelines.

The Commission will take stock of progress made in implementing the Tartu Call for a Healthy Lifestyle by end 2019.