By Haruna Gimba
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that almost 500 million people globally will develop heart disease, obesity, diabetes or other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) attributable to physical inactivity, between 2020 and 2030.
WHO, in Global status report on physical activity 2022, published on Wednesday, stated that 500 million people risked developing NCDs between 2020 and 2030 if governments worldwide don’t take urgent action to promote the benefits of exercise.
The global status report on physical activity 2022 measures the extent to which governments are implementing recommendations to increase physical activity across all ages and abilities.
Data from 194 countries show that overall, progress is slow and that countries need to accelerate the development and implementation of policies to increase heart rates, help prevent disease and reduce the burden on already overwhelmed health services.
To help countries increase physical activity, WHO’s Global action plan on physical activity 2018-2030 (GAPPA) sets out 20 policy recommendations.
These include safer roads to encourage more biking and walking and providing more programmes and opportunities for physical activity in key settings, such as childcare, schools, primary healthcare and the workplace.
“We are missing globally approved indicators to measure access to parks, cycle lanes, foot paths – even though we know that data do exist in some countries,” Fiona Bull, Head of WHO’s Physical Activity Unit, said.
“Consequently, we cannot report or track the global provision of infrastructure that will facilitate increases in physical activity.
“It can be a vicious circle, no indicator and no data leads to no tracking and no accountability, and then too often, to no policy and no investment.
“What gets measured gets done, and we have some way to go to comprehensively and robustly track national actions on physical activity,” Bull said in a statement.
The report calls on countries to prioritise a fitness boost as key to improving health and tackling NCDs, integrate physical activity into all relevant policies, and develop tools, guidance and training.
“It is good for public health and makes economic sense to promote more physical activity for everyone,” Dr Ruediger Krech, WHO Director in the Department of Health Promotion, said.
“We need to facilitate inclusive programmes 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 per cent reduction in the prevalence of physical inactivity by 2030,” Krech said.