On 6 October, EuropeActive hosted the New Health Project Multiplier Event and Active Ageing Communities Project Conference in Brussels, Belgium, as part of a full-day event tackling the role of physical activity in healthy living and active ageing.
In the morning, the New Health event was kicked off by Julian Berriman, the Educational Services Director at EuropeActive, who introduced the New Health project, its direction and broader links with EuropeActive’s work and its Sectoral Manifesto.
Next up, Dr Anna Szumilewicz, Associated Professor at Gdansk University of Physical Education and Sport, presented on the development of Standards for the Healthy Lifestyle Promoter qualification and the learning outcomes of the New Health Project. She highlighted that healthy lifestyle beliefs are an important aspect of one's attitude towards nutrition, exercise and physical activity, and linked this to the way the healthy lifestyle promoter qualification will work towards increasing knowledge of healthy lifestyles for communities and individuals using available tools and educational materials.
John van Heel, Project Director at the New Health Foundation, then made alarming observations about the rise of obesity during his lifetime and expanded on the risks of physical inactivity now and for future generations, as well as the general lack of health literacy in our society. He underlined the unhealthy societal patterns a lot of people experience, including stress, too much sitting and fast food, but stressed that our knowledge is increasing and our access to it is as good as it’s ever been. He finished by sharing the outputs of the New Health project, which will serve as additional tools about health and wellbeing which can help reverse the physical inactivity trends.
The morning sessions ended with Farid Kempenaers sharing Fitness.Be’s campaign to promote the Lifestyle scan that was developed as part of the New Health Project.
Cliff Collins, senior advisor with EuropeActive, launched the afternoon sessions of the Active Ageing Communities (AAC) Final Conference with an introduction of the project, followed by Paolo Caserotti of the University of Southern Denmark and Nicole Blackburn of Ulster University who shared the outcomes of the AAC programme implementation, which involved more than 550 older adults in 18 fitness clubs from 6 European countries. The initial objectives of the project were successfully reached, including a high retention rate (91%), new memberships (65%) and significant improvements in physical function, mobility and balance, as well as in social relations and health-related quality of life of the older adults involved.
Mark Tully of Ulster University followed with a fascinating session on the social dimension of physical activity, delving into the broader social and emotional impacts of physical activity for older adults.
The day ended with a presentation by Diane Crone of Cardiff Metropolitan University on ‘Active Ageing in Wales’, notably outlining the ‘ACTIF – Active, Connected, Engaged’ Peer Mentoring project where over 55s support over 65s to be more active, connected and engaged over a 6-month period.
For more information on the ‘Active Ageing’ concept, you can read EuropeActive’s information paper on the topic.