WHO releases first ever Global Report on Physical Activity (19 October 2022)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently published the first-ever Global Status Report on Physical Activity.

Background Information:

Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles
that requires energy expenditure and can be done at a variety of intensities, and
accumulated through work, domestic chores, transportation or during leisure time, or when participating in sport, walking, cycling, active recreation, and active play.

Physical inactivity is defined as doing insufficient physical activity to meet current physical activity recommendations.

Sedentary behaviour is defined as any waking behaviour while in a sitting, reclining or
lying posture with low energy expenditure.

Regular physical activity is a key protective factor for the prevention and management of NCDsthose who meet recommended levels of physical activity have a 20–30% reduced risk of premature death. About 7–8% of all cases of cardiovascular disease, depression and dementia, and about 5% of type-2 diabetes cases, could be prevented if people were more active.

The WHO launched the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity (GAPPA) 2018-2030 in 2018. GAPPA raises awareness of the need for accelerated whole-of-government efforts around the world to achieve the global target of a 15% relative reduction in the prevalence of physical inactivity by 2030.

The new Global status report on physical activity is the first dedicated global assessment of countries’ progress in implementing GAPPA policy recommendations.

Key Messages:

Latest global estimates show that 1.4 billion adults (27.5% of the world’s adult population) do not meet the recommended level of physical activity to improve and protect their health.

In adults in 2016, levels of inactivity in high-income countries (36.8%) were double those in low-income countries (16.2%).

The most recent global data reveal that the majority (81%) of boys and girls aged 11–17 years spend less than one hour a day doing moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity; and more girls are inactive than boys in most countries (85% and 77.6% respectively). Where modest improvements in physical activity levels for adolescents have been achieved, these have been among boys rather than girls

Globally, if there is no change in the current prevalence of physical inactivity almost 500 million (499 208 million) new cases of preventable NCDs will occur between 2020–2030, incurring treatment costs of just over US$ 300 billion (INT$ 524 billion) or around US$ 27 billion (INT$ 48 billion) annually.

The burden of new cases will largely fall on lower- and upper-middle-income countries, which are set to account for nearly three quarters – 74% – of estimated new cases of NCDs.

Less than 50% of countries have a national physical activity policy, of which less than 40% are operational.

Only 30% of countries have national physical activity guidelines for all age groups.

While nearly all countries report a system for monitoring physical activity in adults, 75% of countries monitor physical activity among adolescents, and less than 30% monitor physical activity in children under 5 years.

In policy areas that could encourage active and sustainable transport, only just over 40% of countries have road design standards that make walking and cycling safer.

Useful Links:

Link to the related WHO news release:


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