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Promoting health-enhancing physical activity for all

Regular physical activity contributes to healthier individual lifestyles. In turn, this ensures a healthy workforce - a key prerequisite for meeting the European Union's economic growth and competitiveness targets. European Union (EU) countries are now being urged to encourage their citizens to take regular exercise.


Council Recommendation of 26 November 2013 on promoting health-enhancing physical activity across sectors (OJ C 354, 4.12.2013).


The majority of European citizens do not engage in sufficient physical activities. Some 60 % never, or seldom, play sport or exercise, although physical inactivity is a leading cause of premature mortality and disease in high-income countries, accounting for 1 million deaths a year in Europe. Apart from the many personal tragedies, there are major direct and indirect costs for society at large.

EU Recommendation

EU governments addressed the challenge by adopting a voluntary recommendation on 26 November 2013 addressed to national authorities and the Commission on promoting health-enhancing physical activities.

This urges EU countries to develop national campaigns and cross-cutting strategies involving different policy areas such as sport, health, education, the environment and transport. These should include practical and concrete ways of motivating people to take regular exercise.


To gauge the impact of the different measures, governments are asked to monitor physical activity levels covering such issues as physical education in schools, schemes to promote physical activity among the elderly and projects to encourage active travel to work.

Focal points and information sharing

National physical activity focal points are being established to help with the monitoring and the data will be fed into the World Health Organization (WHO) European database on nutrition, obesity and physical activity.

The Commission is providing its support by helping the exchange of information and good practice, peer-learning and networking. It can also supply scientific experts to train national focal points and support for the WHO in its involvement in the initiative.


The Commission will produce a report every three years on progress in implementing the recommendation and may compile European statistics on physical activity levels with the same frequency.

Last updated: 17.06.2014