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Leisure Management
2013 issue 4

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Leisure Management - Sport, Fitness and Europe

Editor's letter

Sport, Fitness and Europe

After decades of lobbying, Europe’s getting serious about the benefits of fitness and sport

Liz Terry, Leisure Media

When the EU published its European Union Work Plan for Sport 2011-2014, many thought it would gather dust on a shelf in Brussels. However, much work has been done since on policy in this area – including consulting with allied disciplines like health and transport – and Europe is shaping up to be a great champion for the sport, fitness and wellness industries.

Things have been hotting up this year, with useful evidence, guidelines and strategies being published. The European Commission’s funding a raft of sports initiatives and digital readers can click here to find out more in our report from Tim Lamb, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance (Sports Management Issue 2 2013, p38).

In July, research for an EC-sponsored project tackled children’s exercise, saying advice is needed to protect them from heart and circulatory problems in adulthood.

Published in the BMC Medicine journal, the research, which studied 3,000 children, found those under 10 should get between 60 and 85 minutes’ exercise a day, with boys aged two to five needing at least 70 minutes. This rises to 80 minutes in boys aged six to nine – at least 20 of these to be vigorous. This is contrary to current guidelines of 60 minutes. For girls, 60 minutes is recommended, with 20 of them being vigorous.

In September we heard that the Council of the EU will produce its first recommendations on physical activity. The advice will build on the Physical Activity Guidelines.

The Council will begin discussing recommendations later this month (September) and could publish and adopt the new guidelines as early as the end of the year.

Proposals could include the creation of a ‘light framework’ to help member states monitor the performance of their activity initiatives, analysis to identify trends and initiatives to share best practice.

Androulla Vassiliou, European commissioner for sport, explained: “Much more can be done through our policies to encourage people to get out of their chairs. This initiative is an important milestone in the Commission’s efforts to promote health-enhancing physical activity in the EU.” Importantly, she also added: “By acting together with member states we’ll reduce the significant costs arising from the lack of physical activity in Europe.”

With Europe-wide finances showing no sign of imminent improvement, making a financial case for the benefits of exercise is a vital starting point. Only this will ensure EU member countries buy into this initiative.

A recent EU study found the cost of inactivity is £3bn in England alone. More evidence of this type is needed to make a political case for the development of sport and fitness funding and support at every level.

Given a recent survey found that two-thirds of the adult population of the EU doesn’t reach recommended levels of activity, this push could not be more timely.

Liz Terry, editor @elizterry

Originally published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 4

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