WHO celebrates the European Week of Sports


It’s not every day you see a unicycle going through the lobby of UN City in Copenhagen, especially not followed by several people doing cartwheels and backflips.

But 27 September 2017 was no ordinary day as WHO/Europe helped ensure that staff at the UN City celebrated the European Week of Sports with table tennis, volleyball, football, juggling, dance moves, yoga poses, skipping rope duels and handstands that went on for minutes.

A week for everyone

The European Week of Sports is an initiative from the European Commission, and is coordinated by the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) in Denmark.

It aims to promote sport and physical activity across Europe. The Week is for everyone, regardless of age, background or fitness level. WHO/Europe supports the initiative as part of its ongoing work with countries to promote and create the conditions for everybody to be physically active in everyday life.

With a focus on grassroots initiatives, it hopes to inspire Europeans to “Be Active” on a regular basis and create opportunities in peoples’ everyday lives to exercise more.

During the week, more than 34 000 events take place in 32 countries, and 10 million people were expected to participate. #BeActive can be found on social media.

Event to raise awareness

The objective of the event was to inspire participants to make physical activity a part of their otherwise sedentary office life. Many of the medical conditions Europeans face, such as high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and even some cancers, can be prevented with increased physical activity.

“We hope that this event can give people the idea of being active, with healthy breaks and small 5 minute activities,” says Cristiane Fiorin-Fuglsang, Head of the International Academy at Ollerup Academy of Physical Education, Denmark.

Ollerup is working with ISCA to spread the message of physical activity, raise awareness and involve people that are not usually interested in physical activity.

Being active to prevent diseases

The event was also meant as an inspiration for people who want to be more active while working in an office. Physical activity, such as walking, cycling or dancing, has significant health benefits. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers, helps control weight, and contributes to better mental well-being.

Something as simple as taking the stairs burns 5 times more calories than using the lift.