World Health Organisation launches Global Action Plan on Physical Activity

05 June 2018
children scootering

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a new Global Action Plan on physical activity and health in an attempt to encourage people to become more active.

WHO statistics show that worldwide, one in five adults, and four out of five adolescents (11-17 years), do not do enough physical activity.

The organisation says girls, women, older adults, poorer people, people with disabilities and chronic diseases, marginalized populations, and indigenous people have fewer opportunities to be active. 

The WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says regular physical activity is key to preventing and treating non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and breast and colon cancer.

He says NCDs are responsible for 71% of all deaths globally, including for the deaths of 15 million people per year aged 30 to 70.

"Being active is critical for health. But in our modern world, this is becoming more and more of a challenge, largely because our cities and communities aren’t designed in the right ways," Dr Tedros says.

"We need leaders at all levels to help people to take the healthier step. This works best at city level, where most responsibility lies for creating healthier spaces."

The action plan recommends a set of 20 policy areas, which aim to create more active societies through improved environments and opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to do more walking, cycling, sport, active recreation, dance and play.

It also calls for support to train health care workers and other professionals; stronger data systems; and an exploration of the use of digital technologies.

"You don’t need to be a professional athlete to choose to be active. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator makes a difference. Walking or using the bike instead of driving to your neighborhood bakery. It’s the choices we make each and every day that can keep us healthy. Leaders must help make these choices the easy ones," Dr Tedros says.  

The WHO is also launching an advocacy campaign to promote physical activity, Let’s Be Active: Everyone, Everywhere, Everyday.

This new campaign aims to encourage governments and city authorities to make it easier for people to be more physically active, and healthier.