Insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes. According to the 2014 Global Status Report on NCDs physical inactivity contributes to 3.2 million deaths and 69.3 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide, every year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure – including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling and engaging in recreational pursuits. The term “physical activity” should therefore not be confused with “exercise”, which is a subcategory of physical activity.
3,2 Million deaths worldwide
Physical activity has proven to be a low-cost method not only for reducing the impact of the above-mentioned NCDs but also when it comes to dementia, mental illness and a host of other conditions and risk factors. It is a highly effective policy option that has the potential for delivering economic, environmental and social policy benefits and is likely to contribute to at least eight out of the sixteen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The WHO emphasizes physical inactivity as a key NCD priority and opportunity for governments around the world to take action. In January, the WHO Executive Board endorsed the development of a Global Action Plan on Revitalizing Physical Activity for Health until January 2018, for consideration at the 71st World Health Assembly. At the same time, preparations for the 2018 UN High-level Meeting on NCDs are under way, positioning physical activity as a central strategy for countries to make progress in achieving voluntary NCD targets and reducing physical inactivity by 10% by 2025. The next two years will therefore be extremely important for permanently increasing physical activity around the world.
But what can you do at an individual level? World Day for Physical Activity 2017 is Thursday 6th April and it provides an excellent opportunity for you to get out and move around. Use this Thursday to advocate for more physical activity in your family and group of friends to create awareness for the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Also, follow us on Twitter and Facebook to receive the latest updates and news on our activities in the fight against the global NCD epidemic.
For more information on Physical Activity visit Health Ambition: