NEWS

INTERNATIONAL MEETING UNDER THE PROJECT WAS HELD IN BELGRADE
15.12.2021
In the period 1315 December 2021, in Belgrade, Serbia, an international meeting under the HEPA (Health Enhancing Physical Activity) project was held. The overall objective of this project is to encourage participation in recreational physical activity for seniors (persons age 65+) by developing new recreational sport programmes suited for 3 types of most common health conditions back pain, cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis. The meeting gathered representatives of 6 partner organizations from five European countries Bulgaria, Croatia, Portugal, Slovenia and Serbia. On behalf of Bulgarian sports development association representatives were the sports specialists Ivelina Kirilova, PhD and Mariana Borukova, PhD.

The health benefits of physical activity (PA) for older adults have been well established in the scientific literature. Numerous outcomes have been studied to document associations with PA, including reduced prevalence of common chronic conditions (eg, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension), improved mental health (eg, depression, stress), quality of life, increased physical function, decreased cognitive decline (eg, dementia, Alzheimer's disease) and reduced mortality rates. Physical activity is at the core of health and well-being. The social benefits of physical activity participation are often particularly important to older people. However, health promotion messages often target children and young people, with less focus on the importance of physical activity for people aged 65 years and over. The project is going to pay special attention to the people accommodated in "Homes for the elderly", associations of the elderly, etc. Surveys show that in Europe 25% of people over the age of 60 are physically inactive, which shows that Europe needs innovative exercises for this target group to take into account their physical condition, the limitations of their health and the physical capabilities they possess. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults (including elderly) engage in at least 150 min of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. On EU level, the report, unveiled by Commissioner Navracsics (European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport at the European Commissio) in Sofia during the annual EU Sport Forum shows that levels of participation have not changed substantially since the previous Eurobarometer survey in 2014.

THE SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES OF HEPA PROJECT ARE:
Providing prerequisites for the development of new educational modules and recommendations creation of the expert group for the preparation of the educational modules and development of recommendations;
Analysis of the current HEPA guidelines in project countries;
Analysis of the good practices related to sports and physical activity for people aged 65+;
Analysis of the needs of people in the field of grassroots sports such as coaches, fitness specialists (kinesiologists, trainers) and general practitioners;
Creation of "Guide and training modules" for working with people aged 65+, for coaches, fitness specialists (kinesiologists, trainers) and general practitioners;
Capacity building in coaches, fitness specialists (kinesiologists, trainers) and pilot sports programs suitable for people aged 65+.

THE EXPECTED IMPACT OF THE HEPA PROJECT:
minimum of 50 educated coaches and fitness professionals (kinesiologists, trainers) (10 per project country);
minimum 50 educated general practitioners;
5 round tables organized;
organized Sport pilot programme for seniors in duration for 4 months for 30 seniors (older people 65+) per project country.

THE SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES OF HEPA PROJECT ARE:
Raising awareness regarding benefits of participation in recreational PA for seniors (persons age 65+) in terms of social inclusion and health-enhancing;
Analysing current HEPA guidelines in project countries and developing new Recommendations for implementing HEPA for seniors with emphasis on new developed exercises aimed at resolving back pain and on exercises adapted to persons with cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis using multisector approach;
Strengthening the capacity of kinesiologists and trainers through non-formal education on new methodology for conducting recreational sport activities for seniors in project countries;
Strengthening the capacity of general practitioners on benefits of participation of seniors in recreational sport activities;
Creating a network of main stakeholders (project partner organizations, kinesiologists and general practitioners), national and local sports committees, and units of local (self) government and health institutions to exchange examples of good practice regarding the inclusion of seniors in recreational sport activities.

HEPA project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European union.