EPHEPA Project

European Collaborative Partnership on Sport and Health Enhancing Physical Activity – EPHEPA


EPHEPA – European Collaborative Partnership on Sport and Health Enhancing Physical Activity aims to build capacity across Europe for the promotion of health enhancing physical activity.

Why is this needed?

Insufficient levels of physical activity are prevalent in Europe and represent an important risk factor for non-communicable diseases. In most EU countries, institutional and policy frameworks and capacities to promote health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) are still under development. This results in a lack of specific action plans and implementation strategies as well as in insufficient intersectoral collaboration.

Our Project involves a range of partners across Europe from Finland, Switzerland, Germany, UK, Croatia, Portugal, and closely interacts with WHO Regional Office for Europe. We will tackle this gap between evidence, policies and actions by:

  • enhanced intersectoral exchange across a wider range of key stakeholders and sectors
  • stronger and broader networks to foster sport and HEPA promotion across all relevant sectors and in all parts of the EU
  • a stronger knowledge-base on effective policies and approaches to promote HEPA.

The Project is lead by Professor Charlie Foster, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, with collaboration by Dr Sonja Kahlmeier of the University of Zurich. EPHEPA began on the 1st January 2015 and will run over 3 years (01/01/15 – 31/12/17).

Professor Foster reinforces the value of the EPHEPA project as:

“Our priority is to see genuine and equitable access for all population groups to participate in sport and HEPA and to address any aspects of differential impacts or uptake of activities on the basis of gender or inequalities. We will achieve this vision by the collection, dissemination and exploitation of good-practice examples of specific implementation case studies of the EU Physical Activity Guidelines and of national approaches and lessons learned from a range of countries across the EU.”

What will the EPHEPA project do?

EPHEPA will deliver an intersectoral exchange platform on Sport and Health Enhancing Physical Activity, including 2 annual meetings, 2 workshops on practice, challenges and examples on the implementation of the EU Physical Activity guidelines across different sectors and implementation and application of a Policy Audit Tool (PAT) in 10-15 countries for more effective national strategies to promote sports and HEPA.

EPHEPA is centred around 3 clearly delineated work packages (WPs) which complement each other but also foster synergies with regard to activities, content and stakeholders involved. These are:

Work Package 1: Exchange platform on Sport and Health Enhancing Physical Activity

Work Package 2: Implementation of the EU PA guidelines: practice, challenges and examples across different sectors

Work Package 3: National strategies to promote sport and HEPA – good practice approaches

The true innovation of the EPHEPA project is a peer-to-peer exchange approach to foster transfer and learning between policy, science and practice. This will help to address the challenges and shortcomings of existing policy and promotion approaches in Europe (knowledge network).


Project structure

Model of interaction of EPHEPA project, the HEPA Europe Network, its Working Groups, the EPHEPA Partners and dissemination:


Partner organisations

Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention, Nuffield Department of Population Health, Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford (UO).

The Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention carries out research that has the highest methodological quality, and aims to have the greatest possible influence on public health policy and practice, which relates to population approaches for the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), i.e cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and lung diseases.
The Centre’s research has three themes:

  1. The burden of NCDs
  2. The primary prevention of NCDs
  3. The relationship between NCD prevention and environmental sustainability

We were also designated a World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre in April 2014. We have 4 research programmes (Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology, Diet and Nutrition, Physical Activity and NCD Modelling and Environmental Sustainability) under which we have a variety of research projects currently running.

Web: www.ndph.ox.ac.uk/bhfcpnp

Physical Activity and Health Unit, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Prevention Institute, University of Zurich, Switzerland (UZH)

The Physical Activity and Health Unit is an academic group at the Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Prevention Institute (EBPI) (formerly Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine) of the University of Zurich. The team carries out discovery and translational research as well as implementation and evaluation projects and supports the development of evidence based tools. Key areas of work include policy and transport approaches to physical activity promotion in populations, approaches in health care settings as well as economic approaches and international networks.

Web: http://www.ebpi.uzh.ch/en.html

UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, Tampere, Finland (UKK)

The purpose of the UKK Institute is to promote public health. Through research, training and communication, we support people in adopting healthy life styles. Our aim is to promote physical activity and to reduce the number of injuries occurring at home or leisure. The UKK Institute is a private research institute, owned by the Urho Kekkonen Fitness Institute Foundation. The UKK Institute has about 60 staff members. UKK Institute is a leading research institute on health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) in Finland. On the basis of scientific research several products to promote HEPA have been developed in the UKK Institute. The most famous of them is the UKK Walk Test which has been a success both in Finland and abroad. The Walk Test was followed by The UKK Health-Related Fitness Test Battery which is widely used in Finland. The Physical Activity Pie chart is a visual documentation of the recommendation for health-enhancing physical activity for adults aged 18—64.Recently, UKK has also been mandated with supporting the implementation of the new national HEPA strategy in Finland (On the move –National strategy for physical activity promoting health and wellbeing 2020). The strategy has4 main goals: reducing sitting in daily life, increasing physical activity, highlighting physical activity as a vital element in enhancing health and wellbeing, and strengthening the status of physical activity in Finnish society.

Web: http://www.ukkinstituutti.fi/en/

Division of Physical Activity and Public Health, Institute of Sport Science and Sport, University of Erlangen–Nürnberg (UErl)

The Institute of Sport Science and Sport (ISS) at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg has been operating for more than 10 years with a visionary agenda focusing on “Physical Activity and Health.” It is among the top German organizations in its field, both in terms of research performance and acquisition of third -party funds. Its four divisions, Physical Activity and Public Health, Exercise and Health, Education in Sport and Sport and Exercise Medicine apply individual-and population-based approaches to tackle current challenges related to disease prevention and rehabilitation. Cutting-edge research conducted by the ISS directly informs curricula offered to 1,200 students in its Physical Education Teachers Program, MA course and PhD program. A multitude of applied research projects and interdisciplinary cooperation exemplify the close integration of theory and practice at the ISS. The ISS’ 2014 designation as an official WHO Collaborating Centre on Physical Activity and Public Health reflects its success in building international partnerships and working at the policy level to improve physical activity participation across Europe. The ISS will support WHO in monitoring and research on physical activity and health. Its tasks include provision of technical advice on WHO/Europe’s nutrition, obesity and physical activity (NOPA) database; analysing social inequalities related to physical activity; and assisting in developing a WHO European Strategy on Physical Activity.

Web: http://www.sport.uni-erlangen.org/


Faculty of Sport (FADEUP) and Research Centre in Physical activity Health and Leisure (CIAFEL), University of Porto, Portugal (UP)

The scope of the Faculty of Sport (FADEUP) and Research Centre in Physical activity Health and Leisure (CIAFEL) at the University of Porto, is to promote basic and applied research on health-related physical activity field, valuing the relationships between physical activity and sports with health and leisure. Promoting and collaborating in basic and applied research projects at national and international level on health-related physical activity issues, which express timely and important questions dealing with the relationship between health (mainly chronic diseases), physical activity and leisure. UP was also project partner in the European EUNAAPA, PASEO and IMPALA projects. In addition, FADEUP through CIAFEL offers a Physical Activity community program for the elderly and for obese children.

Web: http://ciafel.fade.up.pt/lang/en/ciafel.php


The Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Zagreb, Croatia (UZA)

The Faculty of Kinesiology is an academic, educational and research institution. It was originally founded in 1959 as the Faculty of Physical Education, and changed its name in 2001, to more comprehensively reflect its research focus. Today, the Faculty employs approximately 120 staff and more than 2300 students are enrolled in its programmes every year. The key educational activities of the Faculty are courses at the Master’s and Doctoral degrees in kinesiology (physical education and sport and exercise science). The faculty is actively involved in international and national research in the fields of physical activity epidemiology and physical activity promotion and also in the fields of sport performance, motor control and biomechanics, exercise physiology, exercise psychology and sociology and sports management. Key activities of the faculty, related to the field of physical activity and health, include: population-representative surveys, developing and implementing interventions for physical activity promotion, and creating and implementing evidence-based materials for physical activity counselling.

Web: https://www.kif.unizg.hr/en

The Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity-Self-Regulation research group, Faculty of Human Kinetics, University of Lisbon, Portugal (UL)

The Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity -Self-Regulation research group (PANO-SR) led by Professor Pedro J. Teixeira, is funded from the European Commission and the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation through independent projects or scholarships for doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. The central focus of the research conducted within the PANO-SR group is in understanding how individuals of all ages regulate and change their health-enhancing behaviours, with a particular emphasis on the regulation of energy-balance related behaviours such as exercise and physical activity, and dietary behaviours. This includes theoretical questions related to human motivation and self-regulatory, communication and learning, and well-being, as well as applied questions related to the measurement of key mediators of behaviour change and the development of effective interventions to change lifestyle behaviours. Research settings range from health and fitness settings, educational settings, families, and organizations such as football clubs, running clubs, community organizations, and others.

Web: http://obesity.fmh.ulisboa.pt