And the price of inaction and staying on the couch will be severe, WHO said – around $27 billion in additional health spending.
The State of World Physical Activity Report 2022 measures how well governments are implementing recommendations to increase physical activity at all ages and abilities.
Data from 194 countries show that overall, progress is slow and countries need to accelerate policy development and implementation to increase heart rates and help prevent disease and reduce the burden on already overstretched health services.
Statistics reveal the scale of the challenges facing countries around the world:
- Less than 50% of countries have a national physical activity policy, of which less than 40 percent are operational.
- Only 30% of countries have national physical activity guidelines for all ages.
- While almost all countries report a system for monitoring adult physical activity, only 75% of countries monitor adolescent activity, and less than 30% monitor the physical activity of children under 5.
- In terms of transport policy, just over 40% of countries have road design standards that make walking and cycling safer.
Time to take a walk: Tedros
“We need more countries to step up the implementation of policies to help people be more active through walking, cycling, sports and other physical activities,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director general of the WHO.
“The the benefits are enormous, not only for the physical and mental health of individuals, but also for societies, environments and economies… We hope that countries and partners will use this report to build more active, healthier and fairer societies for all.
The economic burden of taking it too easy is significant, according to the WHO report, and the cost of treating new cases of preventable non-communicable diseases (NCDs) will reach nearly $300 billion by 2030.
While national policies to address NCDs and physical inactivity have multiplied in recent years, currently 28% of policies are declared unfunded or implemented.
There’s a lot to be said for countries that organize a national public relations campaign or mass participation events, which tout the benefits of exercising more, the WHO said.
The COVID-19[feminine] The pandemic has not only stalled these initiatives, it has also affected the implementation of other policies, which has deepened the inequities when it comes to getting heart rates up in many communities.
To help countries increase physical activity, the WHO Global Physical Activity Action Plan 2018-2030 (GAPPA) includes 20 policy recommendations.
These include safer roads to encourage more cycling and walkingand providing more physical activity programs and opportunities in key settings, such as childcare, schools, primary health care and the workplace.
“We lack globally approved indicators to measure access to parks, bike paths, walking paths – even though we know data exists in some countries,” said Fiona Bull, head of the WHO physical activity unit.
“Therefore, we cannot report or track the global provision of infrastructure that will facilitate increased physical activity.”
“It can be a vicious circle, no indicators and no data leads to no monitoring and no accountability, and too often, to no policy and no investment. What gets measured gets done, and we still have some way to go to comprehensively and robustly track national actions on physical activity.
The report calls on countries to prioritize improving physical fitness as key to improving health and tackling NCDs, to mainstream physical activity into all relevant policies, and to develop tools, advice and training.
“It’s good for public health and economically sensible to promote more physical activity for everyone,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, director of WHO’s Department of Health Promotion.
“We need to facilitate inclusive physical activity programs for alll and make it easier for people to access. This report makes a clear call to all countries for stronger and accelerated action by all relevant stakeholders working better together to achieve the global target of a 15% reduction in the prevalence of physical inactivity. by 2030.”