Islamabad :The World Health Organization has stepped up action to combat inactivity among the global population, part of a campaign for health goals to be achieved by 2030 and to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes and breast and colon cancer, according to the UN health agency.
The action plan includes 20 policy changes that leaders can make to increase opportunity for physical activity through the environment, providing more options for people to walk, cycle, plays sports, have space for active recreation, dance and play.
“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,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement. “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,” he said.
Worldwide, about one in five adults and four out of five adolescents are inactive, the WHO said in a statement. An estimated 71 percent of deaths globally are from non-communicable diseases, which can be greatly reduced by increasing regular physical activity, the organization said.
The populations with the least opportunity for physical activity include girls, women, older adults, poorer people, people with disabilities, those with chronic diseases, marginalized communities and indigenous people, the WHO said. “You don’t need to be a professional athlete to choose to be active,” Dr. Tedros said. “Taking the stairs instead of the elevator makes a difference. Or 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.”
According to WHO, regular physical activity is key to preventing and treating heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases, which are responsible for 71 per cent of all deaths globally, including some 15 million annually, for those aged 30 to 70.
The action plan maps out how countries can reduce physical inactivity in adults and adolescents by 15 per cent up to 2030, and recommends a set of 20 policy areas, which combined would improve opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to do more walking, cycling, dancing, sport and active recreation.
It also supports more training for healthcare workers and other professionals, stronger data systems and better 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. Or walking or using the bike instead of driving to your neighborhood bakery,” Tedros stressed.
WHO’s new advocacy campaign Let’s Be Active: Everyone, Everywhere, Everyday; promotes physical activity on a national level. The new drive, launched at the Portuguese Football Association’s iconic Cidade do Futebol, aims to encourage governments and city authorities to help people to be more physically active and healthier.
In line with WHO’s drive to promote physical activity, Portugal launched its own national media campaign to promote physical health. “The Portuguese Government is highly committed to implement a systemic approach to promote physical activity” said Mr. Costa, adding that he was honoured to host the launch of the Global Action Plan.