Health For AllMove It or Lose It! Nearly Half the World Needs More Exercise

Move It or Lose It! Nearly Half the World Needs More Exercise

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Geneva- 26 June 2024- New data show that nearly one-third (31%) of adults worldwide, approximately 1.8 billion people, did not meet the recommended levels of physical activity in 2022. The findings point to a worrying trend of physical inactivity among adults, which has increased by about 5 percentage points between 2010 and 2022.

If the trend continues, inactivity levels will rise to 35% by 2030, and the world is currently off track to meet the global target to reduce physical inactivity by 2030. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults have 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or equivalent, per week. Physical inactivity puts adults at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancers such as breast and colon.

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Moreover, Researchers from WHO, along with academic colleagues, undertook the study and published it in The Lancet Global Health journal.
“These new findings highlight a lost opportunity to reduce cancer and heart disease, and to improve mental well-being through increased physical activity,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We must renew our commitments to increasing levels of physical activity and prioritize bold action, including strengthened policies and increased funding, to reverse this worrying trend.”

The highest rates of physical inactivity were observed in the high-income Asia Pacific region (48%) and South Asia (45%), with levels of inactivity in other regions ranging from 28% in high-income Western countries to 14% in Oceania.

“Physical inactivity is a silent threat to global health, contributing significantly to the burden of chronic diseases,” said Dr Rüdiger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at WHO. “We need to find innovative ways to motivate people to be more active, considering factors like age, environment, and cultural background. By making physical activity accessible, affordable, and enjoyable for all, we can significantly reduce the risk of noncommunicable diseases and create a population that is healthier and more productive.”

Despite the worrying results, there are some signs of improvement in some countries. The study found that nearly half of the world’s countries have improved over the past decade, and 22 countries are likely to reach the global target of reducing inactivity by 15% by 2030 if the trend continues.

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“Promoting physical activity goes beyond promoting individual lifestyle choice – it will require a whole-of-society approach and creating environments that make it easier and safer for everyone to be more active in ways they enjoy to reap the many health benefits of regular physical activity,” said Dr Fiona Bull, Head of the WHO Unit for Physical Activity.

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