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PHYSICAL ACTIVITY FOR HEALTH

Physical activity significantly influences both physical and mental health. Regular physical activity is beneficial for the heart, the vascular system, respiratory system and muscles and bone health, and contributes to reducing stress and depression; it improves self-respect and self-confidence, strengthens the immune system, improves sleep, alleviates the decline in the psycho-physical condition and functioning of the body, helps establish social interactions and social integration, and hence significantly contributes to the quality of life among all age groups.

In order to promote all types of regular activity and physical exercise for health and their continuation throughout life, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the Strategy of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia in the field of promoting physical (movement) activity to strengthen health 2007 - 2012. The document, prepared by the Ministry of Health together with experts, focuses on different target groups, namely workers in the working environment, families, women during pregnancy, people over 65, adults, children and adolescents, and disabled persons.

At all times, the Ministry of Health observes international guidelines and the orientations of international organisations. In May 2004, the World Health Assembly approved the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, which is designed to prevent chronic non-communicable diseases that have a high mortality risk. The Strategy states that the guidelines for sufficient activity amoung children and adolescents must be observed, i.e. at least 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity at least three times weekly. If possible, children and adolescents with special needs should also follow these recommendations, their physical activity being adjusted to their disability. Among other recommendations, the Strategy also states that priority treatment should be given to the poorer population, which is more exposed to risk factors.

Slovenia also participates in the European network HEPA (Health Enhancing Physical Activity), which operates under the auspices of the World Health Organisation. The purpose of the network is to reinforce and support efforts and activities that may enhance international cooperation and improve conditions for a healthy lifestyle, primarily in the field of health-enhancing physical activity. CINDI Slovenia’s participation in the European HEPA network consists mainly of taking a pro-active role on the network’s Steering Committee.

The goals of the European HEPA network are:
- to contribute to developing and implementing HEPA policies and strategies in Europe;
- to promote HEPA by developing, supporting and disseminating effective strategies, programmes, approaches and other good practice examples;
- to support and enhance the development of multi-sectoral approaches to promoting HEPA.