Evidence-based physical activity promotion - HEPA Europe, the European Network for the Promotion of Health-Enhancing Physical Activity
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There has been a world-wide increase in scientific interest in health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA). The importance of a physically active lifestyle has now been well established both on the individual and on the population level. At the same time, physical inactivity has become a global problem. While sports for all has a long history, only a few examples of long-term integrated physical activity promotion strategies have been in place in Europe until recently, namely in Finland, the Netherlands and England. A number of countries have now begun to develop their own activities. However, there has been a noticeable lack of a platform for sharing the development and implementation of evidence-based policies and strategies. In order to fill this gap, HEPA Europe, the European Network for the Promotion of Health-Enhancing Physical Activity, was founded in May 2005 in Gerlev, Denmark. The goal of the network is to strengthen and support efforts and actions that increase participation in physical activity and improve the conditions favourable to a healthy lifestyle, in particular with respect to HEPA. The Network is working closely with the WHO Regional Office for Europe (http://www.euro.who.int/hepa). The network focuses on population-based approaches for the promotion of HEPA, using the best-available scientific evidence, and is currently implementing its first projects. HEPA Europe has established collaboration with EU Commission projects and Agita Mundo. Priorities for future work have been defined, and interested organisations and institutions have the opportunity to join the network and participate in the process.