WHO recommends physical exercise as key to preventing diseases

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended walking, cycling, dancing and playing to keep diseases at bay.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus stated this at the launch of the ‘WHO Global action plan on physical activity and health 2018-2030: More active people for a healthier world’.

One-in-five adults and 80 per cent of adolescents worldwide are not getting enough exercise, according to the global health agency, which launched a new action plan to tackle the situation and promote good health.

Globally, physical inactivity is estimated to cost 54 billion dollars in direct health care, of which 57 per cent is incurred by the public sector and an additional 14 billion dollars is attributable to lost productivity.

He said regular physical activity was key to preventing and treating noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and breast and colon cancer.

According to him, NCDs are responsible for 71 per cent 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,” he said.

Ghebreyesus said girls, women, older adults, poorer people, people with disabilities, the chronically-ill, and indigenous people on the margins of society, have even fewer opportunities to be active.

“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 added.

According to WHO, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other noncommunicable diseases are responsible for 71 per cent of all deaths globally, including some 15 million annually, for those aged 30 to 70.

The action plan mapped out how countries can reduce physical inactivity in adults and adolescents by 15 per cent up to 2030.

It recommended 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 supported more training for healthcare workers and other professionals, stronger data systems and better use of digital technologies.

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.

Bilkisu Pai