The new ‘health enhancing physical activity’ (HEPA) EU Recommendation supports the implementation of physical activity policy across EU governments for the first time.
The initiative builds upon the existing EU guidelines and will involve close cooperation with the World Health Organization.
At the heart of this new initiative is a monitoring framework, with 23 indicators, which will help Member States to collate information on HEPA levels and improve their policies.
The measure has been accepted by the Sports Ministers Council held on 26th November and although not statutory, has been given cross-governmental support, including by the UK government, which has accepted the Council’s recommendations without scrutiny.
It follows an affirmation by the Commission on sport in 2011 that ‘physical activity is one of the most important health determinants in modern society.’
The announcement of the initiative comes in the same month that both major UK parties backed calls for a ‘national ambition on physical inactivity,’ and is a clear indication that the significance of physical inactivity is being recognised in the EU.
Research suggests that the UK currently spends around £10 billion on the direct health costs of inactivity, and that if just a 1% reduction in the rates of inactivity was made each year for five years, the UK would stand to save around £1.2 billion.