(*) ECC is a member of ECDA.
Universally accepted recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO) advise people of all ages to adopt regular physical activity as a lifetime routine throughout the lifespan (1).
However, latest Eurostat data for the European Union show worrying trends of physical inactivity amongst the European population. In 2014 almost half (49.8%) of EU citizens aged 18 or older did not do any sport (2). Less than a third (29.9%) spent at least two and a half hours per week of leisure time doing physical activities, which is the minimum level of moderate physical activity per week recommended by the WHO for adults aged 18 or over (3). The levels of physical inactivity reported by EU citizens have steadily increased by three percentage points between 2009 and 2014, from 39% to 42% (4).
Physical inactivity is associated with an increased risk of poor health and early death due to chronic diseases, mood and anxiety disorders, and social discomfort. Personal, social, economic and environmental factors all strongly affect physical activity levels and are thus at the forefront of the public health challenge (5).
Conversely, physical activity contributes to good physical and mental health, wellbeing, and is a driver of self-confidence/self-esteem and capacity-building. Improving levels of physical activity amongst Europeans, young and old, should be made a top priority of EU policy action for the coming years. Reducing physical inactivity levels in Europe will ultimately lead to a healthier, fitter population and productive workforce and help reduce the rising tide of costly chronic conditions in the EU.
The ECDA welcomes the European Week of Sport #BeActive message promoting sport and physical activity across Europe, as well as the adoption of the Tartu Call for a Healthy Lifestyle by EU Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan respectively in charge of sport, health and agriculture, and encourages EU Member States and the European Commission to take further steps by 2020, to contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 of reducing by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 2030.
Read ECDA position paper “Move it, some is better than none: Stepping up initiatives to increase physical activity in Europe” here.
For more information, contact the ECDA Secretariat: info (at) alliancechronicdiseases.org
(2) How much do Europeans exercise? Eurostat. March 2017
(3) Ibid source 2
(4) Eurobarometer on Sport and Physical Activity http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-207_en.htm