On October 19, the World Health Organization (WHO) published the Global Status Report on Physical Activity 2022, which measures the extent to which governments are implementing recommendations for increased physical activity among their constituents.
According to the WHO report, almost 500 million people will likely develop conditions linked to physical inactivity, such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes if government doesn’t take action. This could result in US $27 billion globally in healthcare costs annually between 2020 and 2030.
The report pulled data from 194 countries, and other key findings include:
- 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 five 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.
“We need more countries to scale up implementation of policies to support people to be more active through walking, cycling, sport and other physical activity,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, in a statement. “The benefits are huge, not only for the physical and mental health of individuals, but also for societies, environments and economies.”
WHO acknowledged the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impact on progress in these areas.
To help countries increase physical activity, WHO has shared a global action plan on physical activity 2018-2030 (GAPPA), which outlines 20 policy recommendations. These include creating safer roads to encourage more active transport such as cycling, and providing more access to physical activity programs in settings like childcare. The report also calls for countries to prioritize physical activity in all relevant policies.
“It is good for public health and makes economic sense to promote more physical activity for everyone,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, the director of department of health promotion for WHO, in a statement. “We need to facilitate inclusive programs for physical activity for all and ensure people have easier access to them. This report issues 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.”
Read the full report from WHO.