How can physical activity be better promoted in your country? Find out through the HEPA new tool for policy audit of health-enhancing physical activity

Promoting physical activity requires the involvement of multiple sectors in addition to health. In fact, many of the determinants of the opportunities and support for physical activity lie in sectors such as for example education, transport, urban design and planning, sport and recreation, social services.

This new HEPA policy audit tool (PAT) aims to help interested national agencies, institutes or other relevant groups promoting physical activity, to assess within their own country the scope for policy actions in this field.

The tool, based on 17 successful elements for policy approaches to physical activity, is designed to capture physical activity-related policy from across a range of sectors, illustrating successful examples and identifying key learnings and failures. Results from pilot testing will be presented in a workshop during the forthcoming HEPA Europe conference on 11-12 October 2011.

The use of the PAT will provide a comprehensive overview of the breadth of current policies related to HEPA and can identify synergies, discrepancies and gaps between policy documents. Experience from extensive pilot-testing showed that the process of completing the tool can lead to improved collaboration across sectors for future policy development and implementation.

Regular physical activity helps reducing many diseases related to sedentarity, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes and obesity, and improves mental health, healthy growth and development in young people and healthy aging.