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Webinar recap: How health-enhancing physical activity can prevent non-communicable disease

By Maria Malyshkina, ISCA

Did you join us for the final webinar in the series on Health Enhancing Physical Activity (HEPA) and enabling a #HealthyLifestyle4All in January? Three capacity-building webinars organised by ISCA and the HEPA Experts Group members gathered more than 200 registered participants and lay the foundation for a new online course. Read the recap from our recent online webinar, where we explored the contribution of sport and physical activity to non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention, and start our free online course to boost your knowledge even further.
The webinar ‘How to muscle up your game and help tackle the n°1 epidemic in the world’ kicked off with a presentation from Andrea Backović Juričan, a national health promoter at the Slovenian National Institute of Public Health, who explained what makes non-communicable diseases (such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancer, mental health problems, chronic respiratory diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and others) not only the leading cause of death in the world, but, together with the estimated costs of physical inactivity, a huge economic burden to the EU and global budgets.

In her presentation she linked striking statistics with the research and guides on the topic, exploring the relationship between NCDs and the global spike in physical inactivity. A total of 87% of NCD deaths in the WHO European region were caused by major behavioural and biological risk factors, which can be preventable, Andrea noted, as she urged for interventions to support people to ensure healthy eating, sleeping and increased physical activity. 

Wrapping up the first part of the webinar, Andrea highlighted the importance of the community approach to health, which can be carried through various actors in the local community such as health institutions, health insurance companies, municipal administration and others. The participants agreed, commenting in the webinar’s discussion that it should be a two-way street of health and sport working together. Read more about the Slovenian programme Together For Health for integrated chronic disease prevention at

One of the ways to tackle this no. 1 epidemic in the world can be to create a health-promoting “quality seal” for sports programmes or clubs – the webinar’s next speaker, Pia Pauly, head of the GYMWELT department at the German Gymnastics Federation (Deutscher TurnerBund or DTB), demonstrated how. She was invited to share the first-hand tips and tricks as well as lessons learned from an existing practice, “Pluspunkt Gesundheit”. She started by explaining the background and the main goals of DTB, which acts not only as a service provider for the regional federations and clubs, but also identifies as a strong, influential organisation for lobbying and networking. 

Heidrun Kramer from DTB continued the presentation, zooming in on the essence of Pluspunkt Gesundheit, which is used as a seal of quality to award health-promoting sport programmes. DTB developed this programme according to sport science and expert guidelines. The basic aim of the quality seal is to help inactive people adopt an active lifestyle – which in turn helps reduce their chance of developing NCDs. Heidrun noted that the seal is not only a proof of high quality programmes and skilled trainers, which gives the possibility to cooperate with health insurance companies, but also serves as a marketing tool as the seal of quality draws attention and potential members to the club.

Pia continued the inspiring presentation by explaining the specifics of working in NCD prevention in Germany, where insurance companies have to be active in the field of disease prevention and thereby foster close cooperation with health institutions and sport clubs. Pia also shared with the participants a few lessons learned from the programme as well as pitfalls and success factors. With over 10,000 Pluspunkt offers emerging in 5 years and 3500 trainers certified for the health programme, Pluspunkt Gensundheit has evolved from a marketing tool to a seal of quality, which makes a well-known trademark for the clubs. Pia stressed the significant impact at a political level, as DTB and its clubs are now renowned for their efforts to promote the connection between physical exercise and health. 

Confirming Andrea’s statement from the first part of the webinar, Pia rounded out her part of the presentation by emphasising the importance of networking and finding partners at the local level who can be trusted and are close to the target group. For a good cooperation, Pia noted, it’s crucial that the partners have similar objectives – the goal must be clear so that it is a win-win-situation for everyone.

Right before we opened the floor to the participants’ questions, the webinar’s host Carole Ponchon asked Andrea to share her impression from the DTB presentation. Andrea praised the effort of creating an efficient marketing tool, building it up to a seal of quality and managing to promote it on a national level, and called upon the participants to actively reach out to the health professionals in order to tackle the NCD pandemic. The webinar’s participants come from different countries, with diverse and sometimes quite complicated health systems, however, it is in our hands to investigate how these systems work and therefore optimise the cooperation between different actors in the field of health promotion.

Revisit presentations from all 3 webinars at
In the first two webinars of the three-part series on health-enhancing physical activity and the idea of a #HealthyLifestyle4All, we explored how sport and physical activities can help boost mental wellbeing and what can be done to develop targeted and tailored HEPA initiatives that take into account the cultural contexts and everyday circumstances of socially disadvantaged groups and hard-to-reach populations.

The purpose of these capacity-building webinars was to help practitioners deliver more inclusive and attractive activities to a range of different target groups in various settings. 

Now you can explore the topic further in our new online course “Health-Enhancing Physical Activity (HEPA) & HealthyLifestyle4All” – a learning resource for physical activity promoters to make the transition to a healthier lifestyle become more achievable for their participants. We invite stakeholders, professionals and anyone involved in the sport and physical activity sector with an interest in health and wellbeing to join ISCA learning platform at and explore more materials on ISCA Health platform that will help you connect the dots between recreational sport, physical activity and health, connect with experts, learn from their effective approaches and get inspired to work in this space.

We thank everyone who participated in our webinars and connected with other people working in the field! Sign up to our newsletter for more information. If you have any questions or would like more information about the webinars, feel free to contact Carole Ponchon.

Posted on 30/01/2023 by Maria Malyshkina, ISCA


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