About HEPA Europe
HEPA Europe is a network which works for better health through physical activity among all people in the WHO European Region, by strengthening and supporting efforts to increase participation and improve the conditions for healthy lifestyles. HEPA Europe, the European Network for the promotion of Health-Enhancing Physical Activity is also the frontrunner in knowledge in physical activity, a key advocate and broker for physical activity in Europe and your key source for best available evidence.
WHO/Europe closely collaborates with the network, consistently with the goals of its programme on transport and health that include the promotion of physical activity as a healthy means for sustainable transport. Collaborations have been established with the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Union (EU), Agita Mundo, the global network for physical activity promotion, other regional networks, and the International Society for Physical Activity and Health.
- Promote a better understanding of health-enhancing physical activity and give a stronger voice to physical activity promotion in health policy and in other relevant sectors in Europe, including support for workforce development
- Develop, support, and disseminate effective strategies and multi-sectoral approaches in the promotion of health-enhancing physical activity
- Foster the preservation and creation of social and physical environments as well as values and lifestyles supportive of health-enhancing physical activity
- Together with other relevant institutions and organizations, improve coordination in physical activity promotion across sectors and administrative structures.
- Focus on population-based approaches for the promotion of health-enhancing physical activity using the best available scientific evidence
- Emphasis on the importance of monitoring and evaluation; encouragement of the development of standardized measurement methods and systematic research
- Encouragement of the ongoing exchange, dissemination and sharing of experience and knowledge
- Support of cooperation, partnerships and collaboration with other related sectors, networks, and approaches.
The European Network for the Promotion of Health-Enhancing Physical Activity (The HEPA Network) is one of the seven European Commission Health Promotion Networks. It promotes the health and well-being of European citizens by facilitating the development of national health-enhancing physical activity policy. It has received funding from the European Commission’s Health Promotion Programme since 1996. In addition to the 15 member states, the network also includes Estonia, Iceland, Israel, Norway, Slovenia, and Switzerland. After a one year preparation period, HEPA Europe was officially founded at its first meeting on 26–27 May 2005 in Gerlev, Denmark.
What is health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA)?
Health-enhancing physical activity is any form of physical activity that benefits health and functional capacity without undue harm or risk. Physical activity does not need to be strenuous to be effective. Thirty minutes a day of moderate-intensity activity is enough to benefit health. The choice of activities is ample and include: brisk walking, cross-country skiing, washing windows or a car, cycling, gardening, shovelling snow, swimming, mowing the lawn, walking to work or shops, dancing, walking the dog.
Guidelines were designed to assist health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) practitioners in creating a successful HEPA promotion programme. They are the result of a thorough analysis conducted of four national programmes: The Netherlands on the Move! (The Netherlands), Allez Hop (Switzerland), Fit for Life (Finland) and ACTIVE for LIFE (England). The guidelines identify good practices for programme preparation, development, design, implementation and evaluation. They also present the lessons learnt by the four programmes.
Who are these guidelines for?
These guidelines are aimed at local, regional and national promoters of health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA). They have been written with the help of four national HEPA promotion programmes and are based on the experiences of these programmes. They include examples of perceptions of good practice and reflections on the strengths and weaknesses of the programmes as well as other sources of published literature and research on HEPA promotion programmes. The aim of these guidelines is: to help in the development, design, implementation and evaluation of HEPA promotion programmes.
Why are these guidelines needed?
The prevalence and impact of physical inactivity is emerging as one of the largest public health problems throughout Europe. Increasingly the cost of treating chronic diseases and conditions will grow as health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and the premature decline of functional capacity continue to develop (US Department of Health and Human Services 1996). The health, social and economic costs of a less active population across all ages are likely to rise as changes in occupation, transport, leisure time and the environment encourage the majority of the population to remain sedentary.
How do these guidelines contribute to tackling physical inactivity across Europe?
The guidelines offer principles of good practice for HEPA promotion. They are based on the experiences gained in four national programmes drawn from 20 member states of the wider European network, the European Network for the Promotion of Health-Enhancing Physical Activity (the HEPA Network). For the first time, the guidelines bring together examples of HEPA promotion. As more is learnt about HEPA promotion within the different countries, cultures and settings across Europe, new examples of good practice will undoubtedly emerge. As such, these guidelines should be considered a starting point as HEPA promoters across Europe begin to tackle the challenge of physical inactivity – the most underrated health hazard in Europe.
The challenge for HEPA promoters is to tackle physical inactivity by mobilizing political, organizational and community support. The development of new recommendations for more moderate types of physical activities that can enhance health may contribute to meeting this challenge. Indeed, moderate amounts of brisk activities as part of daily living, transport and leisure may offer the least active sections of populations the chance to become more active.
BSOE project contribution on HEPA Europe
Physical activity in this context of anorexia treatment and post-treatment causes opposite reactions of experts from various fields, including the experts who conduct the health-oriented physical activity. The main question which arises is how to make one of the indications of the disease – physical activity – its therapy. While the compulsive exercising is an ally of the afflicted in their intention to lose weight, the physical activity in therapy and post-therapy should lead to the increase of the general health level. It is certain that there are no harmonized stances which might contribute to defining the methodology of the implementation of physical activity in the treatment of anorexia and resocialization.
BSOE will, for a week, be a meeting place of the interaction between participants, mainly people who suffer or have suffered from anorexia, in order to exchange their understanding of physical activity; from being an instrument of reaching the perfect body goal to the one which has a purpose of reaching the balanced psychophysical well-being and creating the interaction with the society.
On the other hand, the Project shall contribute to the acquisition of knowledge and best practices in various contexts in which the physical activity promotes general health and influences the social inclusion directly. People that shall participate in the one-year program are the professionals with specific knowledge about the problem of anorexia and it is the multidisciplinary approach that will enable the creation of a coherent framework, both the normative and the best practices one, on the EU level. This knowledge is essential in promoting the goals of the EU with regard to social inclusion in and through sport, as emphasized in EU White Paper on Sport :”The quality and comparability of data need to be improved to allow for better strategic planning and policy-making in the area of sport.”
A narrow cooperation with sport clubs/organizations/associations shall be established so that they would be familiar from the start with the problem which is very little known of and, because of the nature of the disease, very little spoke of, in all countries with the participating sending organizations head offices. We wish to create a basis for the establishment of testing platforms with the aim of raising awareness both in professionals from various sectors (especially fitness and sport clubs) and in afflicted or borderline people.