WHO reviews fact sheet on physical activity (20 June 2016)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reviewed its fact sheet on physical activity.

Background information:

Physical activity: Any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure – including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits.

Exercise: Physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and aims to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness.

Exercise is a sub category of physical activity.

How much physical activity is recommended?

The amount of physical activity recommended by WHO varies with age group:

Children and adolescents aged 5-17 years

  • Should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily.
  • Physical activity of amounts greater than 60 minutes daily will provide additional health benefits.
  • Should include activities that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 times per week.

Adults aged 18–64 years

  • Should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
  • For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate-intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or equivalent.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

Adults aged 65 years and above

  • Should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
  • For additional health benefits, they should increase moderate intensity physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or equivalent.
  • Those with poor mobility should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls, 3 or more days per week.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups, 2 or more days a week.

In order to be beneficial for cardiorespiratory health, all activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.

Key Messages:

Insufficient physical activity is 1 of the 10 leading risk factors for death worldwide. (It is the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality.)

Insufficient physical activity is a key risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.

People who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active.

Physical activity has significant health benefits and contributes to prevent NCDs.

Regular and adequate levels of physical activity:

  • improve muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness;
  • improve bone and functional health;
  • reduce the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer and depression;
  • reduce the risk of falls as well as hip or vertebral fractures; and
  • are fundamental to energy balance and weight control.

Some physical activity is better than doing none. By becoming more active throughout the day in relatively simple ways, people can quite easily achieve the recommended activity levels.

Globally, around 23% of adults (1 in 4 adults) aged 18 and over were not active enough in 2010 (men 20% and women 27%).

In high-income countries, 26% of men and 35% of women were insufficiently physically active, as compared to 12% of men and 24% of women in low-income countries.

Globally, 81% of adolescents aged 11-17 years were insufficiently physically active in 2010. Adolescent girls were less active than adolescent boys, with 84% vs. 78% not meeting WHO recommendations.

Useful Links:

Link to the WHO fact sheet:

http://who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs385/en/

Link to Global recommendations for physical activity for health (English)[PDF]:

http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/44399/1/9789241599979_eng.pdf

Link to Global recommendations for physical activity for health (Arabic)[PDF]:

http://who.int/dietphysicalactivity/PA_Recommendations_AR.pdf?ua=1

Link to Global recommendations for physical activity for health (Chinese)[PDF]:

http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/44399/2/9789245599975_chi.pdf

 

Link to Global recommendations for physical activity for health (French)[PDF]:

http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/44436/1/9789242599978_fre.pdf

Link to Global recommendations for physical activity for health (Russian)[PDF]:

http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/44399/3/9789244599976_rus.pdf

Link to Global recommendations for physical activity for health (Spanish)[PDF]:

http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/44441/1/9789243599977_spa.pdf

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