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 $27 billion globally in annual healthcare costs between 2020 and 2030.
The report pulled data from 194 countries.
“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 to 2030, 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.”
Chelsy Winters, the executive director of healthy living initiatives at the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, said the Y will continue to work to increase physical activity on a continuum from the individual all the way to the community level to combat the trend found by the WHO.
“We want to support and empower individuals on their own journeys towards more physical activity, as well as alongside community partners to increase access and availability to physical activity,” said Winters. “The most effective physical activity is one you enjoy and will do regularly.”
Winters advised If you are just getting started with being more active, try to explore a variety of options so you can find what you like best. She said physical activity has a plethora of benefits for your physical and mental health, is a great way to connect socially with friends and family and can help provide active transportation choices that can have a positive impact on the environment.
“Whether that’s going for a 10-minute walk, finding a group exercise class you enjoy, working with a certified professional, or playing a sport with family and friends – the options are really endless,” said Winters. “We also offer virtual programming as a benefit to all Y members, allowing you to login from any device to experience the Y and a few minutes of physical activity anytime and anywhere.”
She said her Y tries to meet community members where they are to provide safe and fun physical activity for all ages. They accomplish this by having programs meeting in a variety of formats such as one on one, small groups and large groups so everyone can find an activity where they feel comfortable.
“We also work to support participants in changing their lifestyles, managing their stress levels and adopting healthy habits at all stages through our evidence-based programs to prevent or manage chronic disease,” said Winters. “Finally, the Y believes we can and should play a role in making our community healthier outside of our walls, so we work proactively to collaborate alongside partners and community to influence policy, system and environmental changes that make healthier choices easier in our city.”
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